Leaving aside the modernity of Valencia, we explore the natural and historical settings that the "community" shares with the Mediterranean. The more we travel, the more its bright life seduces us.
Valencia remained covered by a blanket of gray clouds that promised showers at any moment. The promise was soon fulfilled. Banished by the sun and beaten by the rain, the city turned even more gray.
Puente del Mar, one of several over the Turia river, which give access to the old hull, appears lost in the mist, crossed from time to time by locals and strangers that the figures of the Virgin and San Pascual permanently bless . Crossing the river to the west, we reach Plaza Porta del Mar. From then on, Valencia reveals its majestic historical center and its most impressive centuries-old testimonies: the Cervelló Palace, the Church of Santo Tomás y San Felipe Neri and the Plaza de la Reina, marked in the distance by the towering towers of the Miguelete Cathedral and the Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina.
Despite the gusts and the wind that meanwhile granted a truce, hundreds of visitors flock there, delighted by the unlikely combination of the medieval and religious atmosphere of the monuments with the pagan stronghold of the nearby bars and pubs. While, in the gloomy interior of the so-called Conjunto Catedralício, some outsiders make an effort to respect the usual warnings of silence, on the terraces that are still soaked around, others indulge in a cosmopolitan laughter fed by successive rounds of cañas and tapas.
We left the Plaza de la Reina, walked along Calle San Vicente Martir and avoided getting back into the almost labyrinth of the surrounding alleys and alleys, from which it had taken us too long before to get out.
The night does not take long to set in. We investigate the animation of one or another bar, but we don't take long to pick up at the accommodation. The next morning, we were leaving early, heading south towards Dénia. As for Valencia, as time is running out, we just skim the historic. The futurist or the Third Millennium – as the Valencians like to call it – we leave it for a next visit.
The new day dawned with an intense sun that seemed to make up for the rain damage that had been so far. Enthusiastic about the unexpected meteorological stimulus, we order breakfast and hit the road.
We leave behind the city's modern and somewhat chaotic surroundings. According to the routes, the next places worthy of attention were located 20 km to the south, all of them in the Natural Park of La Albufera, a large lake formed by the siltation of an entrance to the Mediterranean and by beaches to the north and south.
But, as Portuguese, and used – as we are all – to more serious beaches, it soon seemed that that somewhat uncharacteristic coastline and almost no waves would hardly impress us. Accordingly, we dedicated ourselves to exploring only the lagoon, subsumed behind a tall, dense grass that hid countless lake birds and also busy fishermen. We reach the end of a small wooden jetty when one of them appears behind the raised cane field in the shape of an improvised gondolier, balanced on a wooden vessel with coiled nets overflowing. We see no signs of fish on board and when the man docks by the jetty we ask him in Spanish, more jokingly than anything else, how the fishing pond was doing.
"Spanish certainly aren't, and if they were, they could only be Galician." respond to us with humor and boldness. “Well, with Portuguese we always talk a little bit in Spanish, there's no problem, even if it's not our language that Spain has already made the most sense, as you're certainly noticing. It's the same with the lagoon. With the exit to the sea closed as it is, there are days when we walk here almost just making a show. Like today, for example.” We realized that the landing of the nets was going to be a piece of work and we left him to his toil and his political and fishing indignation.
Shortly thereafter, we advanced to Dénia and descended to Cabo de la Nau, which marks the easternmost point of the Valencian community, points towards Formentera and the rest of the Balearic archipelago, off the coast.
We travel through the northern part of the province of Alicante when we come to the originally yellowish Moorish castle of Dénia, facing a bay full of boats, some fishing boats, others not for that reason, or if the city were not an important port port of the ferries to and from the Balearics.
We explore the low houses around the walls and climb inside the sandstone fortification. From there, towards the end of the afternoon, we enjoyed the surroundings at 360 degrees. With twilight already imposing its ethereal blue, we returned to the coastal foothills of the slope and joined the bohemian crowd on the seafront, with much more availability than we had, at the outset, in Valencia. Like Dénia, a large part of the charm of the next destination on the map, Xàtiva, was also due to its castle.
The journey between the two places proved to be short again. We made it along a winding and bucolic path, along a sequence of forests, fields, vineyards and orchards only broken by picturesque towns or villages.
Upon arrival, Xàtiva deceived us. The road goes around a large hill, steep enough to prevent the view from below of the medieval scenery from the top. Inevitably happens to us what affects those who do not know those places: we head towards the busiest urban center of the town and completely miss the monument that stands out the most.
Only later, we reach the historic center along a vertiginous path that enters the narrow and shady streets formed by the old houses until it surpasses it in altitude and gives us a magnificent view of the Baixa-Xàtiva.
We continue to climb. We reach the limits of the long walls and the scenery resembles that of the top of the Moorish castle of Sintra.
The presence and periods of conquests and reconquests between Christians and infidels, as well as other later “internal” confrontations, also left imposing traces there. Xativa came to rival in political and ecclesiastical importance with the city of Valencia itself. He was at the origin and in the life of the always powerful and controversial family of the Casa de Borja and the two Borgia popes, Calixto III and Alexander VI. During the latter's reign, in its eagerness for more and more power, the already Italianized family made deadly enemies against the portentous rivals Medici and Sforza, also recognizably the Dominican friar Savonarola, among others. They were so conflicted that over the centuries the outburst of Toffana, one of her many repentant servants, became popular: “I should have stayed in the stables. What a family does this Pope have!”
The Borgias were accused of a bit of everything. Of incest, adultery, theft and systematic bribes. At the same time, they were dynamic patrons of the Renaissance movement. In fact, they continue to give the arts something to do.
They recently inspired a fruitful TV series from the ever-creative producer showtime. And fascinate and addict most players of Assassins Creed, a long sequel to cross-platform video games in which their adventures and misadventures stand out. By itself, the genesis of the family gives Xàtiva additional importance and meaning. It involves a guided tour of a series of churches, chapels and stately palaces and a more exhaustive discovery of the troubled life of the Borgias. That's what we continue to do.