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, cakes, cats, and ice cream.
Fictions feature here too.
You'll find the trips listed in the handy Trips Menu

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into the box as usual and then type in

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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 looking forward in hope becomes a global phenomenon next spring is looking like the prime time. It's when the restrictions in the UK might end and the time by which we'll all have had the vaccine, it is said, assuming we're not anti-vaccination nuts. Closer to the concerns of this site, the new Brunetti, called Transient Desires is out on the 8th of April, and Philip Gwynne Jones' new Nathan and Federica novel The Venetian Legacy is published on April Fool's Day 2021.

Weíre a week into Lockdown 2 in the UK, and as museums and cathedrals are closed until early December my life currently consists of food shopping, online art-history courses and working on the websites. The Churches of Florence colour scheme is no longer green, but a tasteful terracotta and The Churches of Venice is benefiting from some good stuff found on Oxfamís online bookshop.

New novels set in Venice and Florence are sparse, but Philippa Gregory, who Iíve never read, has a new one called Dark Tides out in a couple of weeks set in restoration London, Venice and early America. Otherwise it's romantic novels and reprints of Shakespeare. For Florence the hot non-fiction news is that Ross King, author of Brunelleschiís Dome and Michelangelo and the Popeís Ceiling and a giver of two lectures amongst the aforementioned online courses, has a book out on April 1st 2021, called The Bookseller of Florence: Vespasiano da Bisticci and the Manuscripts that Illuminated the Renaissance, featuring the printing-press nuns of San Jacopo di Ripoli in Florence. And by a weird coincidence the same day sees the publication of The Florentines: From Dante to Galileo by Paul Strathern. Also spooky is the fact that on March 4th 2021, two days before my birthday, a debut novel is published set in Venice and Florence with a heroine whose surname is also my mumís maiden name. Itís by Laura Vaughan and is called The Favour.

Also Trump's days are numbered and the vaccine news is looking hopeful.
Into the future!

When the coronavirus situation improved in the summer, and lockdowns were eased, it looked like a September or October trip to Italy might be possible. But Autumn is bringing new restrictions and measures and it's looking increasingly unlikely that I'll be getting my ass to Italy this year. I have been working on pages devoted to Pisa and Ferrara for my church sites, but they need more church and photos to be presentable. Three art-historical guided trips, to Siena, Lucca and Parma, have been postponed from this year to the first half of 2021 and I really hope that they, and some solo church research trips, happen. I'm getting around England, our cathedrals are grand, and empty museums are a treat, but I'm definitely suffering gelato, gilded-altarpiece and fresco-cycle withdrawal symptoms. Life goes on, though, and hope helps.

Not sure how I missed this one coming, but there's a new Sandro Cellini novel by Christobel Kent just out. It has the uncharacteristically short title of The Viper, it's the first one since 2014's The Killing Room, and it bills itself as the last. This latter fact makes Marco Vichi the only writer of a Florence-set crime series still running.

My plans for an Autumn trip to Venice are a bit discouraged by the increase in cases in Italy, due to young people coming back from holidays, so it may end when holiday season ends. New measures involve closing nightclubs, which will impact my holiday plans mightily, of course, and you now must use face protection between 6pm and 6am in outdoor areas where the public might gather. Weird, says the man usually in bed by 10.00. The number of flights from London is very reduced, presumably because of lack of demand, and cancellations seem rife, with fewer flights to then transfer to.

But if I become braver I'm now toying with Pisa and Florence, as I've just started making a Pisa churches page and it'll be good to visit a crowds-free Pisa Duomo and the Uffizi and Accademia in Florence. Almost booking flights for late September there seem to be only about 12 people on them so far. Also my new blue passport is on its way.

Just back from four days in Norwich. Getting the hang of the new normal as far as hotel stays go, and cathedral visits, was reasonably plain sailing. Everything has to be booked in advance, rooms are serviced only if you ask, breakfasts are waitress-served, and cathedrals have a set route and you have to wear a mask. But it seems that new-normal group travel to Italy is not to be, for me, as my art-guided trip to Lucca next month has just been cancelled, presumably due to not enough people being willing to go ahead with it under current circs. It's been postponed to next March, by which time, fingers crossed, we might be back to normal normal.

old news here

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

December 2019
Jon Clinch Marley London
Hallie Rubenhold The Five:
The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
The Books That Made Me Self indulgence
Some 2019 Tintoretto books

November 2019
Hisham Matar A Month in Siena Siena
Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell Venice

October 2019
Ferrara and Bologna Trips



Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2020
Twenty-two years? Blimey!