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.

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, cakes, cats, and ice cream. Fiction features here too. You'll find them listed in the handy Trips Menu

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

In case you're curious, this is Me


My other sites are...


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

Click on the link and Like the page for regular updates.

Click here to send me an e-mail
All suggestions and flattery gratefully received.


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

click on the titles to read all about them

In four weeks I'm off to Venice. For appropriate reading I need look no further than a post I put up in January mentioning two new Venice-set novels out in June. Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh looks literary and the likeliest option. The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate, looks a bit too love-y. It's another novel about 18th century musical orphans, but from the Incurabili this time, so no violins. Also Michelle Lovric, a friend of this site in the early days, has a new novel just out, set in Venice, for children, called The Wishing Bones. The plot revolves around another orphan, Casanova and the bones of Saint Lucy, it seems, and promises the return of the author's enjoyably stroppy mermaids.


Mantua & Ferrara

It seems that guidebooks are waning in popularity, what with the internet and all. It's still gratifying to get good head-swelling plugs in them, though, like the new edition of the Rough Guide to Venice and the Veneto, from which the image on my News Page was snatched.
In less-good news, the healing hopes of my last posting turned out to be misplaced, and a return of sharp pain meant that I had to cancel the Umbrian hill towns trip at the last minute, which did not make me happy! A swiftly-booked trip to Mantua, on a revisit of a trip I much enjoyed in 2005, should hopefully see me getting into Mantegna's marvellous (I'm told!) Camera degli Sposi this time. Trips to Cardiff, with Gloucester Cathedral, and Venice are disappointment-soothing prospects for July and September too.

It's been weeks since I returned from the Siena trip below, and only now can I report the healing of the pulled muscle I came home with. I can finally go places without limping back! And walk for pleasure, rather than just supermarket supplies. (Thank you Boots support bandage.) Which is just as well as I have a new medieval course at the V&A starting tomorrow, and a guided trip booked to Umbrian hill towns next week. Those damn hills! But I sure got plenty of church-website work done, and lots of reading. As a fiction fan I've always had a novel on the go, since my teens, but recently the habit of a non-fiction book too has become established. Currently, though, I'm reading about the Habsburgs, the history of the Bible and the Palazzo Rucellai - all three non-fiction! It's not natural. On the baked-goods front I ate the last slice of simnel cake yesterday and today the last of the Colomba di Pasqua, so I feel that this Bank Holiday weekend marks the divide between Siena and Easter and my striding, without pain, with hope in my heart, into summer. Shame the central heating's still on.


If my many mentions of House of Secrets - The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo by Allison Levy whetted your appetite and you're wondering why no word...I'm glad to report that a copy is finally on its way, after much correspondence. Even better is the news that following one brief email a copy of The Venetian Masquerade by Philip Gwynne Jones fell onto my doormat this morning (see flyleaf snapshot right). Expect a review before the end of next week, as I have just started reading, and been immediately smitten by Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, which I heartily recommend already.



more news here

June & July 2019
Cardiff  Trips
Mantua & Ferrara
Jo Walton Lent Florence

April & May 2019
Allison Levy House of Secrets
Jess Kidd Things in Jars London
Siena Trips

March 2019
Philip Gwynne Jones The Venetian Masquerade
Sicily Trips
Philip Kazan The Phoenix of Florence

February 2019
Donna Leon Unto Us a Son is Given Venice

January 2019
The Aspern Papers Venice films
Andrea Perego The Laws of Time Venice

December 2018
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


Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright Jeff Cotton 1998-2019
Twenty-one years? Blimey!