Originally called Ficocle, it was probably of Greek origin and was located midway from current Cervia and Ravenna. It is known that this originary settlement was destroyed in 709 by patrician Theodore for its alliance with Ravenna against the loyal Byzantines.
Later the centre was rebuilt in a more secure position, in the Salina. This medieval city grew until it was provided with three fortified entrances, a Palaces of Priors, seven churches and a castle (Rocca) which, according to the legend, was built by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. The name also changed from Ficocle to Cervia, probably referring to the Acervi, great amounts of salt left in the local evaporation pods. After a long series of events, it became part of the Papal States.
As the time passed, the salt pod turned into a marsh, and on 9 November 1697 Pope Innocent XII ordered it to be rebuilt in a safer location. The new city had huge silos for storage of salt, containing up to 13,000 tons.