The ancient town of XÀTIVA (Játiva), 50km south of Valencia, was probably founded by the Phoenicians and certainly inhabited by the Romans. Today, it’s a scenic, tranquil place and makes a good day-trip. Medieval Xàtiva was the birthplace of Alfonso de Borja, who became Pope Calixtus III, and his nephew Rodrigo, father of the infamous Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia. When Rodrigo became Pope Alexander VI, the family moved to Italy.

Xàtiva has a fine collection of mansions scattered around town, but most are private and cannot be entered. Many of the churches, though, have been recently renovated, and the old town is a pleasant place to wander. Fiestas are held during Semana Santa and in the second half of August, when the Feria de Agosto is celebrated with bullfights and livestock fairs.

Keep an eye open for arnadí in the bakeries – a local speciality of Moorish origin, it’s a rich (and expensive) sweet made with pumpkin, cinnamon, almonds, eggs and pine nuts.

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