This is an itinerary to discover Cervia’s salty soul, through the places where this past is still tangible today and ideal for people who love to know the history and traditions of the visited places.
It refers to a flat path of about 2 km, which runs from the centre, among historical buildings that characterized the salt miners’ lives, to the naturalistic oasis with a rich faunistic heritage and an always fascinating landscape, until the ancient Salina Camillone (Salt Pan), where the salt is still today produced in an artisanal way.
We start from Saint Michael Tower, built between 1689 and 1691 near the Salt Warehouse “Tower”, to defend the city and the white gold from the pirate attacks.
According to Count Michelangelo Maffei’s directive, Treasurer of Romagna, the tower is devoted to Archangel Saint Michael, as the relief tile above the front door shows.
It seems that the tower was built following Michelangelo's ancient drawing, much like other coastal towers of the Papal State.
At the time of construction, the coastline was a few hundred metres further back than the current line, so the Tower faced the sea and was very near to the harbour entry. The Tower cannot be visited, but on the first floor we can find the Tourist Information Office.
Nearby the Tower, the Tower Salt Warehouse rises, built in 1691, while, on the canal’s opposite side, there is the “Dock” Warehouse, built in 1712. Both represent one of the best industrial archaeology examples in Cervia’s territory.
The Tower Warehouse was built by the will of the Treasurer of Romagna, Michelangelo Maffei, to insure the storage of the salt, which was produced in the Saltpans. From here, after a first cleaning and drying, the salt was transported to the Dock Warehouse.
Today the Tower Warehouse, with its imposing rectangular arches, as well as becoming an exhibition space, hosts MUSA, the Salt museum, which keeps alive the memory of work in the saltworks, through documents, tools and photographs, that bear witness to the environment and production of salt.
Going along the Canal harbour towards the west and turning left at the harbour, we arrive at the centre of the Qudrilateral, which is the perimeter of New Cervia, built between 1698 and 1714, when in the Old Cervia, situated in the middle of the Salt Pan, life conditions were too unhealthy and the inhabitants were decimated due to malaria.
The new city had a quadrilateral shape, typical of foundation cities, i.e. built following a precise project: along the outer walls there were the salt miners' dwellings, which served as the city walls, while the central area was occupied by the houses of the richest people and of the local authorities. Because of the insufficient number of accommodations, in 1790 the salt miners’ borough, or Saffi borough, added itself to those first dwellings.
Inside the Quadrilateral there are different buildings and interesting places. Garibaldi square, New Cervia’s heart, hosts the Municipal palace and the Cathedral, one in front of another, the symbols of the political and spiritual powers. Not distant, we can find the Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio, currently under restoration, with a 1788 organ of Gaetano Callido, the famous Venitian author, and a wood crucifix of the second half of 1300, currently in the Cathedral.
From the main square, through an arch, then we can arrive at Pisacane Square, “the Herbs square”, with the Old Fish Market, now a meeting place, and also the Stone of Measurements, an ancient table coming from Old Cervia.
Along the Quadrilateral perimeter, on the south side, there is the City Theatre, an example of minor architecture of the 1800’s, a century of great love for the opera theatre.
Coming back to the canal harbour and going along it towards the west, in the direction of the Adriatic Highway (which we can cross thanks to an underpass), the Visitors Center of the Salt Pan is easily accessible. From here, guided visits start, from March to November, to discover this unique environment of very high naturalistic, scenic and historical value.
At the ancient Salina Camillone, the unique remaining saltpans after the introduction of the industrial production system, salt is still today hand-crafted with wood tools, and it is an integral part of the Salt Museum. From June to September, starting from the Visitors Center, it is possible to see the work demonstration of the salt miners, thanks to free appointments, organized by the Salt Miners Civilization Cultural Group.