This site is all about how stories add spice to our ideas and feelings about the cities we love. And often we only know cities through the stories we've read. 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 its indulgent side pages too. These deal with subjects like
Venice's cats
, London's cakes and Lost Florence.

I've also been casting my net wider of late and posting reports on my trips to other European cities, as a service to travellers who share my enthusiasm for art, churches, cakes, cats, and ice cream.
Fictions feature here too.
You'll find the trips listed on the handy
Trips Menu

To search within this site using Google, enter your search terms
into the box as usual and then type in

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These sites also have their own Facebook page...
The Friends of Fictional Cities
and the Churches of Venice and Florence

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click on the word NEWS
above for more news (with photos!)

click on the titles and trips to read all about them


So that was 2021 was it? Well let’s let it rest in peace and move on.
Things are looking good for 2022.

Trepidation and playing it safe are all well and good, but sometimes a chap just has to take a chance, and book a week in Florence in February. It's a guided tour, which I don't really need, but it's a favourite art historian and a couple of old tour friends are on it. Added attractions are the Brancacci Chapel putting up scaffolding for restoration that the public is going to be allowed up on, the new Fra Angelico rooms in San Marco and Santa Croce’s new entrance, open areas and circuit. Booking a guided trip also means someone else is taking care of the tests and forms. But I'll be crossing my own fingers. March is full of postponed tours and a homecoming niece, but April and May are pretty empty and crying out for returns to Venice, Ferrara, Verona... the list is long and the hopes high.

News of novels for us to look forward to in 2022. The Angels of Venice by Philip Gwynne Jones sees Nathan Sutherland investigating the death of an art historian during 2019's bad floods, but we'll have to wait until July to read it. Venice-set books containing the word Angel are far from rare - Miss Garnett's Angel, The City of Falling Angels, The Garden of Angels, The Painter of Angels and Angel of Venice, to name several. The new Brunetti from Donna Leon is published in March, a few days before my birthday, as usual, and is called Give Unto Others. Also it'll be 30 years next year since the first Brunetti, Death at La Fenice.

With only a couple of cold months left in 2021 I am becoming resigned to staying in my own country until next year. Travel to Europe  has become possible, but what with the talk of passenger locator forms, green passes, and the PCR/antigen tests business, not to mention the need to wear a mask, I am think that waiting for the Spring might make for a pleasanter experience. The first of my guided art trips postponed to 2022 is Toulouse in March - neatly exactly two years after my last (covid-cursed) trip abroad, to the Van Eyck exhibition in Ghent. Two years! Still I've kept busy and my churches pages have all been refreshed with book reading and updated with reports from more intrepid travellers, as well as sundry sprucings up and tidyings. Some memorable travel around my own country too. Onward!

I came back from my trip to Durham to weather not as cold as when I went, and a letter from the NHS inviting me to book my covid booster jab.  I went online that night and booked an appointment the next  morning at a vaccination centre in an ex-chemist's near Amen Corner. It all went v. smoothly, with no queuing, and while I was waiting my statutory 10 minutes before leaving one of the volunteers kept me entertained showing me her string tricks, where you entwine and knot a loop of string around your fingers and them tug an end and it comes miraculously undone, without the loss of even one finger. Magic! Or to put it another way – isn’t the NHS wonderful!


Fans of
The Master, Colm Tóibín's fictionalised life of Henry James, will be excited by the prospect of The Magician, a similarly sharp look at the life of another very Venice-connected author, Thomas Mann. I've only just started it but it already has me, not least for, when dealing with Mann's early years in Lübeck, not flinching from his early encounters with marzipan, what made Lübeck famous.


As Italy no longer requires that travellers from Britain quarantine for five days I've been idly toying with the idea of booking a week (or so) in Ferrara and/or Venice in mid-October. Seven nights at the hotel I stayed at last time in Venice, the Palazzo Stern, is €2184 euros. But the Mercure where I stayed in Ferrara last time is £304 for seven nights. Both are 4-star and both include breakfast and the ability to cancel for free. Madness! Or I might just wait until January or February 2022 in the hope of more normality having returned by then.


old news here

January 2022
D.V. Bishop City of Vengeance Florence
Robyn Cadwallader Book of Colours London

November 2021
Daniel Wallace Maze Young Bellini Venice

September & October 2021
Durham Trips
Serge Simonart Venezia Venice

August 2021
Suffolk Trips
Carpaccio in Venice: a guide Venice

July 2021
E.M. Forster A Room with a View Florence
Sarah Winman
Still Life Florence
Norwich Trips

June 2021
Edinburgh Trips
Cathedral Towns Between Lockdowns Trips
Cynthia Saltzman Napoleon’s Plunder and the Theft
of Veronese’s Feast

April 2021
David Hewson The Garden of Angels Venice
Laurie R. King Island of the Mad Venice
Anna Bellani The Venetian Safari

March 2021
Philip Gwynne Jones The Venetian Legacy Venice
Jonathan Chalstrey Punch! Florence
Amelia B. Edwards The Story Of Salome short story Venice
Ross King The Bookseller of Florence Florence
Donna Leon Transient Desires Venice

January & February 2021
Francis Spufford Light Perpetual London
Lily and Minnie New cats



Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2022
Next year: 25 years!