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 The Cats of Venice
, London 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.
Novels and stories 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

As me and the crocuses raise our heads into the cool air, thoughts turn to Spring and trips. I've been busy, so I am looking forward to the South Tyrol in April, Ferrara & Bologna in May, Piero Country in June, Norfolk Churches in September,
Burgundy in October and Delft in October. No trip to Venice planned, as yet, but it's always possible that some specially-opened Biennale satellite venues might tempt me.

As ever the new year brings news of Donna Leon's new Brunetti novel. It's called A Refiner's Fire, which is a very biblical departure from the usual cliché-phrase titles; and it's concerned, it seems, with teenage gang wars in Venice. Further novelty, verging on actual shock, is provided by it coming out in July, not March. As a wise man once said - amazeballs!

Season's Greetings 2023
and best books and music are on my
news page

I cancelled the Cardiff trip mentioned below, as it was looking like being too wet and wintry a time, and as I type this at the end of the week I should have been away, it's been a week of constant rain, with Storm Ciarán sweeping Europe.

In better news, having found a 5th great-grandfather who was a saddler in Smithfield, called Adam Greenlaw Gray, who lived near St Bartholomew’s church (my new London fave – it’s so Romanesque inside!) and who was married and had his children christened there, I discovered that his wife, Elizabeth Faraday, was the sister of Michael Faraday! So Michael Faraday's dad is my 6th great-grandfather.

My assertion in my last post that I'd had my last trip of the year is looking premature. I recently found that an ancestor of my dad's mum, called Jabez Phillips, was born in Bassaleg, in Wales near Newport, and in 1779 got married in Michaelston-y-Fedw, also not far from Newport, and now basically a suburb of Cardiff. So I've booked a week in Cardiff later this month, with a cathedral I missed last time and a tempting cemetery adding to the appeal. And then there's the shops selling fresh-baked Welsh Cakes. Then I read about an rather large exhibition of 16th-century Venetian art in Munich over the winter so we've booked a week there in December. Christmas markets providing the extra appeal this time. I do realise how lucky I am BTW.

The Venetian Terraferma trip was a very good one, but looks like being my last of the year. Patrizia, the tour manager on the trip, an old friend who is also the wife of a good friend of these pages, has set me to thinking by recommending a stay in Venice of a month to really get to know the place. This idea is now getting seriously pondered. In Italian this is known as 'putting a flea in my ear' it seems. Also there's a new, surprise, Donna Leon book of reminiscences, which consists of a sequence of short chapters, we're told, and so sounds like another of those large-font, wide-line-spacing , blank-page-infected jobbies, but I'll let you know. I had my Covid vaccine booster a couple of days ago too, and so far I'm not suffering the pains which began the day after my jab last year and invalided be off of a Lucca tour. It was the Pfizer vaccine, though, like the others I've had, and not the Moderna from a year ago. Who knows?

old news here

November 2023
Carlo Fruttero & Franco Lucentini The Lover of no Fixed Abode Venice
A Haunting in Venice Venice films

October 2023
Martin Gayford Venice: City of Pictures
Lee Jackson Dickensland

September 2023
Donna Leon A Wandering Through Life Venice
The Venetian

August 2023
David Hewsom The Borgia Portrait Venice

June and July 2023

Philip Gwynne Jones The Venetian Candidate Venice
Churches of Suffolk
Lucca and Pisa

April & May 2023

Verona & Venice Trips

March 2023

Medieval Champagne
Donna Leon So Shall You Reap Venice

February 2023
The Victorian London Grime Glut:
Philip Davies London: The Great Transformation 1860–1920
Judith Flanders Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London

Lee Jackson Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth
Sarah Wise The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum

Cathy Ross Bollardology



Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2024
26 years of reading and travelling