Welcome to another edition of “I Love My Neighborhood”, where I ask expats from across the globe to share the joys of local life they’ve found in their corner of the world.
If you’re just joining in now, check out the other cities that have been covered so far here.
Today’s guest post comes from Patrick, an Englishman in Valencia — which, fun fact, makes Spain currently the most featured country for expats in this series. Read on to learn more about what it’s like to live surrounded by history in this medieval town in the interior of the province of Valencia.
Patrick Waller: Why I Love Xativa
Mediterranean Spain has its obvious advantages: the weather, the food, the beaches, the lifestyle, and the people….the list is quite long. However, once you have lived somewhere for a long time it becomes home and all these things are nice but are also just become part of your everyday life. That is what Xativa is for me now: home.
I live in the countryside right next to the town of Xativa. It has 26,000 inhabitants and is situated some fifty-five kilometres southwest of Valencia capital, and is a similar distance from the coast.
It is a mixture of the historical and the modern; 21st century Spain living right next to centuries of history. Over the years it has been a key town. Hannibal rested his elephants here. The Romans made it an important town on the Via Augusta, the Moors added onto the Roman castle and introduced paper to Xativa, making it the first town in Europe to make paper in the 11th century.
Narrow medieval streets, beautiful old buildings and a long leafy avenue give Xativa a special feel. The infamous Borgia popes came from Xativa (Alejandro VI was born in a house on San Pedro Street) and helped make it into one of the richest towns in Valencia in the 15th and 16th century. It is a great town for relaxing and appreciating the great quality of life it has. I like it because my children grew up here, I know a lot of people and can stop and chat in the street and it has some lovely architecture.
My favourite things in this charming town with a history are:
There are fabulous fountains throughout the town. Most of them are very old and have beautiful designs.
The castle is a must to visit but it also has a great terrace bar for sitting outside to admire the view and for watching the locals and tourists while you sip your beer.
M.Pla sells typical pastries and breads and is an authentic gourmet experience. Whenever I go in there the smell of fresh bread, the heat of the ovens, the huge selection of goodies on show and the smiling happy staff make it such a pleasurable experience.
The Almuerzo is a typical mid-morning snack. There are three or four great bars where I love partaking of this. One of these, Canela y Clavo, a modern Spanish cuisine restaurant, is on the main leafy avenue and it is a luxury in the spring to sit outside with or without friends and savour the food and the place.
A Special Place
There is a small park and walking route on the mountain above the town, with a couple of beautiful chapels there amongst the olive groves, wild lavender and carob trees. At certain times of the day it is a refuge from the bustle of the town. It is quiet and has views of the town from above; the lovely tiled roofs, the Seo (large church) and the mountain skyline. A haven of nature right next to the town
Above all, Xativa feels like home and I feel lucky to live in such a charming place.
About the author: Paddy is from Kent in England and in 1982 went to live in Spain to learn Spanish after leaving university. He ended up staying two years, marrying his Spanish girlfriend, returned to work and live in the UK, started a family (his three boys are now grown up) and twenty years ago returned to Spain working for multinationals until two years ago, when he left his job to set up his own business The Spanish Thyme Traveller with his wife (“his Spanish girlfriend”) Julia. He loves Spain, mountains, reading, photography, food and wine and birds of prey and you can read his weekly posts about Spain on The Artichoke Adventures.
All photos courtesy of the author.