This site is all about how stories add spice to our ideas and feelings about the cities we love. Often we only know cities through stories. 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 some indulgent side pages too. These deal with the likes of 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.
Fiction features here too.
You'll find the trips listed on the handy
Trips Menu

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into the box as usual and then type in

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and the Churches of Venice and Florence

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Back from my trip to Ferrara and Venice, and boy was it hot - the upper 20sįC. But lots of photos were taken, churches visited, and gelati and pastries scoffed in both cities. Only really the mask-wearing remains of the Covid measures, on public transport and some churches, although I was blessed with hand wash from a nun. Having been on three trips abroad and two in the UK so far this year I plan to stay at home now for a bit, probably until September/October. I'm looking at plenty of work to get my Ferrara church page presentable and my Venice pages freshened up, which I've already begun.

This time next week I'll be packing for my trip to Ferrara and Venice, where I'll be selflessly devoting myself to photographing churches and eating gelato. It'll be my first trip to Venice, and first solo trip to Italy, since November 2019. In Venice I'll also be checking out the now-finished conversion of the ground-floor rooms at the Accademia to gallery space which, since August 2021, has included a new big room of church art of the 17th and 18th centuries. Not our favourite centuries, but still. The new display presents 63 works, many not previously on display for space reasons. There's a few rarely-open churches being used as Biennale satellite venues too, and temperatures are looking to reach around a comfortable 23į.

The need for the  personal locator form for entry into Italy ceased on the 1st of May and the NHS covid-jab proof is now only needed for entry into the country, not restaurants and galleries anymore. FFP2 masks are still compulsory on flights into Italy and on public transport there. A minor pain, and weird after the UK's relaxation of all rules, but not as bad as February.

Just when you thought it was safe ... my guided trip to South Tyrol in June has just been cancelled, due to too-low numbers. It seems that not everyone thinks it's safe yet. The silver lining is that I now have a swathe of free weeks in June giving me scope to book my own destination(s) in Italy.


Encouraged by the news that from the 1st of March entry to Italy no longer requires a pre-trip Covid test, just proof of vaccination and passenger locator form, I've booked a week in Ferrara and Venice in mid-May!


I'm just back from Florence - my first trip to Italy since Venice in November 2019 and my first trip abroad since my Covid-cursed trip to (not) see the Van Eyck exhibition in Ghent in March 2020. So thatís two years of lockdowns, staycations and online courses, but no getting out of my own country. Rules have been relaxing very fast in England of late, but Italy was still not taking any chances.


Wonders never cease! I've just had an email from Donna Leon's publisher asking if I'd like a review copy of her new one Give Unto Others, due out early in March. After 24 years of having to ask nicely, and often getting no reply, this is very heart-warming. Anyway, I said 'yes', so expect a review sooner than later. Also on the way is the new one from David Adams Cleveland, Gods of Deception, due out towards the end of April. It is evidently not heavy on the Venice content this time, but he's earned his inclusion over the past three novels, and it's another long 'un - 928 pages.

Things are moving, for good it seems, in the right direction in Britain, COVID-measures-wise. On Thursday 27th the recent harsher rules are being relaxed, and today an easing of the need for tests for travellers coming into the country has been announced, taking effect on the 11th of February. Iím feeling full of hope about my trips to Florence in February and Toulouse in March, but I've just had a tour to Lucca in late March cancelled. They said it was because the numbers were too low due to current trepidation, but rumour has it was more the fact that BA don't fly to Pisa on Thursdays at the moment. I've moved my money to a guided trip to South Tyrol in June. I know next to nothing about the region but it looks interesting, having been Germany until it was given to Italy after WW1.

So it looks like my foolish optimism might be well-founded this time.

old news here

May 2022
Maria Luisa Minarelli Murder in Venice
Ferrara & Venice Trips
Tasha Alexander Death in the Floating City Venice

Norwich Trips

March 2022
Rob Samborn The Prisoner of Paradise Venice
Toulouse, Conques & Albi Trips

February 2022
Florence Trips
Tasha Alexander The Dark Heart of Florence
Marco Vichi Ghosts of the Past
Donna Leon
Give Unto Others

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 Napoleonís Plunder and the Theft
of Veroneseís Feast

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


Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2022
Coming soon: 25 years!