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In ancient times Cervia was called "the town with three sites", because it had been rebuilt for three times in three different historical periods.
At first the town was known as Ficocle (in the Greek period) but we have not much information about this period. It is certain that it was literally destroyed by Exarch Teodoro in 709, because it was guilty to have joined its forces with Ravenna against Costantinople.
The town was rebuilt inside the saltpan, in a safer place, it was connected to the mainland by means of three drawbridges and it was provided with a defensive fortress that, according to the legend, Barbarossa wanted to be built here.
In this historical period the town changed its name and became Cervia. The legend tells that the town was completely surrounded by woods and forests and that one of the most frequent visitors of these green areas was the bishop of Lodi.
One day, while he was walking in the pinewood, he saw a deer who recognized him as a God’s servant and so he knelt in front of him in sign of devotion.
From that day on the town was called Cervia (because deer in Italian is cervo) and the town’s coat of arms represents exactly a golden deer, who is kneeling on the green ground.
Thanks to this new reconstruction the town certainly became impregnable, but its inhabitants all died within a few years because of the low salubrity of the salt marshes. Only in 1967 Pope Innocent XII approved the order to transfer Cervia to a healthier area and so the town was rebuilt once more.
At the end of the nineteenth century the touristic development of Cervia was fostered by the sanitary improvement of a stretch of this territory, that was still considered malarial, and by the building of the railway station (Ravenna-Cervia in 1884 and Ferrara-Ravenna-Rimini in 1889). Otherwise, in 1882, the first public baths were built and crowned Cervia as a seaside resort.
In 1907 a new lido was created and called Milano Marittima, to underline the close relationship of the administration of this town with the important Maffei family from Milan. In 1911 the development of Cervia beach started and accompanied the development of a new, modern town which was wholly built inside the pinewood.
The development of the town planning continued, in spite of the outbreak of the first and of the second world wars and then it increased in the course of the years and helped the town to become one of the most renowned seaside resorts in Italy.