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

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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

22.4 2024
Just back from the South Tyrol, my first trip of the year. It could've been warmer, but it couldn't have been more stimulating and fun. I must get to Germany more.

6.4 2024
I was prepared for some late temptation amongst the list of satellite Venice Biennale venues, but this year there seem to be absolutely no unusual church openings, and so this continues to look like a year that I won't visit Venice. But I'm off to the South Tyrol, and the city of Merano, next week. It's all looking very medieval and mountainous.

I'm blowing the dust off my compass and camera as my guided tour of the South Tyrol is happening just the other side of Easter. Not having had my traditional first trip in March this year has resulted in very itchy feet and sundry gelato withdrawal symptoms. March has been a thing of rain and flu, but I had a good birthday.

The sun is out, the sky is blue, and as me and the crocuses raise our heads into the cool air, thoughts turn to booking trips. I've been busy, so I am looking forward to trips to the South Tyrol, Ferrara & Bologna, Piero Country, Norfolk Churches, Burgundy and Delft. No trip to Venice planned, as yet, but it's always possible that some specially-opened Biennale satellite venues might tempt me. And there are gaps in the summer and September.

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!

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.

old news here

May 2024
Ripley Venice TV

April 2024
The South Tyrol Trips

January 2024
Carlo Fruttero & Franco Lucentini The Lover of no Fixed Abode Venice

November 2023
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


Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

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