The area was inhabited since prehistory, and early remains have been found at St. Cecilia. In 1162 the village was granted immunity from taxes for 12 years, and this episode also gave origin to the name "Francavilla" (meaning "free town"). The harbour was a flourishing commercial key point in the Adriatic Sea, but in the 16th century was plundered by Turkish troops. The town was held by families such as the Caracciolo and D'Avalos in the following centuries. In the late 19th century Francavilla was already a well known seaside resort and the seat of an artistic literary circle with relevant figures as Francesco Paolo Michetti, Gabriele D'Annunzio, F.P. Tosti, who met at the "Conventino", in the former monastery of Santa Maria di Gesù.