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 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. Fiction features here too. You'll find the trips listed in the handy Trips Menu

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click on the word NEWS
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click on the titles and trips to read all about them

News of next year's fruitful Spring rush of Venice novels begins with Donna Leon's new Brunetti coming out on 5th March (in time for my birthday again) called Trace Elements, and then in April there's Philip Gwynne Jones's new Nathan Sutherland novel Venetian Gothic.


In a bookshop in Bologna last week I spotted a novel called Medici ~ Ascendancy by Matteo Strukul, the first in a trilogy. My first thought was: do we really need another book about the Medici, let alone three? I looked up the author, he's Italian and has an unusual background in crime fiction, comics and computer games, so one might expect something fresh, but his other novels have dealt with Michelangelo and Casanova. What next? Vivaldi and the Pietà girls? Pshaw!

I'm just back from
Ferrara and Bologna
where I went for the working on Bologna's churches, two cemeteries and some end-of-season gelato. Mission accomplished! It's good to take Autumn trips and so return from the warmth of Italy to the chill of the English autumn, but the contrast this time, between short-sleeves in the evening and air-conditioning in my hotel room and putting the central heating on and searching out the winter coat was too drastic!

Those of you paying attention may have noticed that, despite announcements to the contrary, I was not in Venice last week. But fear not - I will be there in the first week in November. The churches specially open for Biennale shows will still be open and From Titian to Rubens: Masterpieces from Antwerp and other Flemish Collections, the exhibition in the Palazzo Ducale which opened last Thursday, the day I was due to come home, will still be on. So all is good.

Tinney Sue Heath's A Thing Done was a novel set in Florence that I liked lots a few years back. So an offer of her new one was greeted with joy. It's called Lady of the Seven Suns and deals with the life of Francis of Assisi from the viewpoint of a rich Roman patrician woman who becomes an acolyte and a sturdy supporter. I'm half way through and finding it a gentle but moving read, from a perspective mixing faith with pragmatism. It's out on September 1st and I hope to get my review up next week.
Also Michelle Lovric, a friend of this site in the early days, has a new Venice-set novel for children just out called The Wishing Bones. The plot revolves around an orphan, Casanova and the bones of Saint Lucy, it seems, and promises the return of the author's lovable stroppy mermaids.

more news here

December 2019
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

August 2019
Tinney Sue Heath Lady of the Seven Suns: a novel of the woman
Saint Francis called Brother
Related works

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


Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

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