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

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 The last of my of guided art history trips to Italy (to Parma in June) has just been cancelled, and moved to 2022. Trips abroad, and the likelihood of smoothness and comfort initially when we are allowed, are still looking like dicey prospects, so I'm set to stay on my own island this summer. A solo week in Edinburgh has just been added to Medieval Suffolk in August and Durham in September, but hopes for Italy in the Autumn remain desperately high.

A bit of a revival in Venetian fiction fondness going on with yours truly, possibly because I'm missing the place, but the Spring rush helped. On the lockdown easing front libraries and non-essential shops reopened this week, with galleries and such to follow mid-May. Meanwhile I'm busy visiting and photographing the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries in London, a couple of which I've never been in! So many daffodils.

Adding to the Spring reviews below comes a copy of David Hewson's Venice-set The Garden of Angels, which has suffered some odd UK/US, hardback/ebook staggered publication in recent months. And a novel by Jonathan Chalstrey of the life of Pietro Torrigiano, the sculptor who was responsible for Michelangelo's busted nose, called Punch!  Well what would you call it?!

But in other ways the year is turning out typical. I've just had my review copy of Donna Leon's 2021 Brunetti (the 30th!) called Transient Desires, and Philip Gwynne Jones' new Nathan and Federica novel The Venetian Legacy is coming soon. I'm also currently reading Ross King's The Bookseller of Florence and have been made aware of the recent novel City of Vengeance by D. V. Bishop, another Florence fix. So it's looking like another Spring reviews glut, I'm happy to say.

As Italy, and abroad generally, is not looking to match our vaccine and lockdown-easing measures I've booked a couple of guided UK trips -  Medieval Suffolk (including Sutton Hoo, Lavenham and Southwold) in August and Durham (with Jarrow) in September with an art historian who's also a good friend. But I've not given up hopes of Italy in the Autumn.

So on Monday we Brits were shown our slow way back to normality. Very much from my personal perspective the stages we pass before then are as follows.
8th March Schools reopen
29th March Meeting friends and family outdoors is allowed. Weíre going to see ours on the 30th, for the first time since last October. Travel outside oneís locality now allowed. The return of the Brick Lane bagel run?
12th April Non-essential shops, libraries and hairdressers can open. But why not art galleries and museums? A very good question so far not sensibly answered. Holidays in this country will be allowed in self-contained accommodation.
17th May Museums and galleries can now reopen, as well as restaurants and hotels. Also international travel can resume, but this will be reliant on other countryís vaccination states and rulings, of course.
21st June All restrictions lifted. Mass mask burnings?

For me I can see myself getting out in the fresh air more in March as the stay-at-home rule is relaxed. Iíll finally get to take my library books back in April, but it wouldíve been nice to have been able to go see some art while Iím in town. But I wonít be able to do that until May. Letís hope day trips out to cathedral towns will happen then too. City breaks in the UK are tempting me for the summer, but Italy is looking unlikely before the Autumn. Itís good to have a rough idea, though.

We're still in covid lockdown, and as a new season of art-history trips approaches - Spring - so a new batch of cancellations is upon me. Lucca this March is now Lucca in March 2022 and Siena in May has just been cancelled and is now Toulouse and Albi, also in March 2022. Parma and Modena this June has yet to cancelled, but is looking dicey, I'd suggest. I'd like to vaguely and broadly conject that UK holidays might become possible in late Spring, maybe even around Easter, with foreign travel maybe in the Autumn. The roll-out of the vaccine and the fall in the rate of transmission and deaths across the UK suggests that some optimism may be in order. Our esteemed  leader is set to make some sort of announcement on the 22nd of this month.

old news here

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

February 2021
Francis Spufford Light Perpetual London

January 2021
Lily and Minnie  New cats

October 2020
Lucretia Grindle The Faces of Angels Florence
Valerie Martin I Give It To You Florence
Us Venice TV

September 2020
Christobel Kent The Viper Florence

August 2020
Norwich Trips

July 2020
Chris Beckett Two Tribes London
David Hewson Shooter in the Shadows Venice
Dorian Gerhold London Bridge and its Houses
David Mitchell Utopia Avenue
Charles Dickens Dombey and Son

May 2020
David Whittaker Mindful of Venice Reflections and Meanderings

April 2020

Christopher Bollen A Beautiful Crime Venice
Philip Gwynne Jones Venetian Gothic

March 2020

Van Eyck in Ghent and Bruges Trips
Donna Leon Trace Elements Venice





Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2021
Twenty-three years!