The origin of the name Cervia – home to the Musa, Museo del Sale (Salt Museum) – is uncertain. Traditionally the town is said to have been named after a deer (‘cervo’ in Italian), send by God to appear before a bishop.
However, a different hypothesis ties Cervia to the Latin word ‘acervus’, meaning “heap” or “pile”, describing the salt amassments that once could be seen in the area. Indeed Cervia, now a seaside resort on the Adriatic Sea, was dubbed “the city of salt” due to its strong connection to the production of salt – dating as far back as the Etruscan civilization.
Visitors in this part of Romagna can now explore the Cervia Saltpan, including the old Camillone facility, made up of over ten basins (with one still functioning) where the famous “Cervia salt” was extracted. In the past, the hard work of the people of Cervia allowed the rest of Italy to enjoy what people called “sweet salt” due to its low content of potassium, magnesium chloride, calcium, and other substances that usually give sodium chloride a slightly bitter aftertaste.
The Camillone Saltpan is part of the Salt Museum, which opened in 2004 to document the ancient activity of salt extraction with an exhibition that effectively presents the historical and cultural identity of this region.
The Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran once said, “There must be something strangely sacred about salt. It is in our tears and in the sea.”
Cervia’s residents would certainly agree.