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Built starting from the end of the 17th century to host the families of saltworkers, the Quadrilatero represents the boundaries of Cervia Nuova.

Aerial view of the quadrilateral, historical centre


Conditions in Cervia during the 17th century kept worsening, especially due to the unhealthy air because the sea was moving further away, as a consequence of solid matter carried by the river Savio and by Apennine streams.

The population size kept shrinking as a consequence of malaria. Following the repeated requests from the town dwellers and thanks to the intervention from the Treasurer Maffei and Bishop Riccamonti, in 1697 the Holy See accepted the application to rebuild the city closer to the sea. Not far from the salt warehouse, along a tall border made of dunes, the perimeter of the new town was built: a square with 170 m long sides.

Il quadrilatero (The quadrilateral)

In January 1698 the first stone was laid; a huge worksite was thus opened, and while in the old town the buildings were dismantled and their materials recovered, in the new town site foundations were aligned and walls put up; the burchielle, a typical craft used for salt transport, were used to carry bricks. After the first side had been completed, it was noticed that more space would be necessary between one house and the next. The decision was therefore taken, on the other three sides, to add a small courtyard between the houses, thus transforming the original square plan into a rectangle 270 x 170 m. in the middle 13 larger houses were built for the Archpriest, for the Treasury and for the town’s aristocracy. Access to the city was possible only through Porta Cesenatico, Porta Ravenna and Porta a Mare; the latter being the only one to have survived World War II.

Two plausible suggestions have been made as regards the origin of the name Cervia.


Panoramic view of the quadrilateral, historical centre
Firstly, there might be a connection with the legend according to which a “cervo” (deer), one of many populating the very ancient pinewoods, knelt down to pray before the Bishop of Lodi, visiting this area. this image is depicted in the town’s coat of arms. Other scholars are of the opinion that the root of the place name might be the Latin word “acervus” (heap), a reference to the salt heaps which towered over the old town like white mountains.

For more information about the history of the ancient Ficocle and on the foundation of the New Cervia, click here

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