This site is all about how stories add spice to our ideas and feelings about the cities we love. My favourites have long been London, Venice, and Florence and so I made this site, where I list and review all sorts of novels and films set in these three cities. Each city has indulgent side pages too. These deal with subjects like Venice's cats, London's cakes, and Lost Florence.

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Featuring a spookily coincidental focus on Mantegna and Bellini. Also guidebooks, a fruity old novel, sadness, and a rather fine film.

I had my first visit to the Mantegna and Bellini exhibition at the National Gallery this morning, and it's a firm recommendation: intelligent arrangement, impressive and well-chosen loans, good audioguide and not too crowded. Highlights include the Crucifixion panel from the San Zeno altarpiece in Verona, which has still not been returned after Napoleon swiped it, which means it's much easier to see up close and appreciate than the altarpiece is itself. And Mantegna sure has a way with classical architecture, and rabbits. I came away more of a Mantegna fan than before, but Bellini is still my man. How they interacted is the fascination of the show, which moves to Berlin next spring, if that helps.

A bit of a Bellini book bonanza at the moment. Lives of Giovanni Bellini is a palm-size  but comprehensive and plushly-illustrated compilation of roughly contemporary writing about Bellini by Vasari, Ridolfi and Boschini, with the letters between him and Isabella d'Este as a bonus. It's edited and introduced by the Getty's Davide Gasparotto and looks like an ideal stocking-filler for the Bellini fans in you life. Giovanni Bellini: The Art of Contemplation by Johannes Grave is a much more major career survey. I'll be reviewing both soon. And then there's the Mantegna and Bellini exhibition in London in prospect, in connection with which I'm going to a one-day talk and a two-afternoon course. I strongly doubt that you can have too much Giov Bellini, but I think that I'm going to find out, one way or the other.

Florence and Arezzo

Searching for something fresh in the fiction line to read on my upcoming trip to Florence (and Arezzo) I'm not getting any anticipatory frissons, I have to admit. There's a new Philip Kazan, called The Phoenix of Florence - we like him but it's not published until next February. Fiction set in Florence featuring Leonardo is far from rare, as are novels where conspiracies are uncovered, crimes committed and members of the Medici family murdered. Also Florence and feminism and female artists is a definite thing. So a series that mixes up all of this stuff, called the Da Vinci's Disciples series, should be no surprise. It features a team of female painters secretly trained by Leonardo and the books look to be dark and tasty, but it takes a lot to make me forgive the making of the heinous Dan Brown mistake of using Da Vinci as a surname, as regular readers will know. There is a new Marco Vichi out while I'm in Florence, but I haven't read his previous one yet. So maybe I will.

more news here

December 2017
Graham Greene The Ministry of Fear London

October 2018
Milan Trips
John Ruskin Mornings in Florence

September 2018
Lives of Giovanni Bellini  
Florence and Arezzo

August 2018
Marco Vichi Death in the Tuscan Hills

June & July 2018
Leeds and York Trips
Nancy Trips

April & May 2018

Claudia Caramanna et al Paintings from Murano by
Paolo Veronese
Tristan Palmgren Quietus Florence

March 2018
Donna Leon The Temptation of Forgiveness Venice
Philip Gwynne Jones Vengeance in Venice
Roberto Tiraboschi The Eye Stone Venice
Siena Trips

February 2018
Gregory Dowling The Four Horsemen Venice
Imogen Hermes Gowar The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock London
Lincoln Short trips

November & December 2017
Vienna Trips
Norwich Short trips
Glenn Haybittle The Way Back to Florence
Giovanni Boccaccio The Decameron Florence

September & October 2017
Magdalen Nabb Death of a Dutchman Florence
Padua & Verona Trips
David Adams Cleveland Time's Betrayal Venice

Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright Jeff Cotton 1998-2018
Twenty years? Blimey!