From “town of salt” to holiday destination
During the first decades of the twentieth century, Cervia started to take on a new life as a seaside town. August 14, 1912 marks the birth of the "garden town" which represents one of the most accomplished projects of an "ideal holiday resort" ever designed in Italy at the time. Milano Marittima thus became a modern seaside resort for Milano’s middle and upper class thanks to an ambitious and futuristic urban project by the painter Giuseppe Palanti.
A variety of villas in Liberty style were built, from the most original ones combining diverse styles, to the most futuristic ones, such as Villa Perelli, built in 1940. The architect Matteo Focaccia played an important role in the local architecture during the expansion phase of Milano Marittima and Cervia, combining eclecticism and originality with a taste for beauty.
In the more peripheral areas, huge holiday camps for worker’s children proliferated. These so-called “colonie” were promoted by Benito Mussolini in the 1930s and stand out as examples of architectural experimentation. By 1939, Cervia boasts two imposing holiday camps – both valuable examples of rationalist architecture: the Varese holiday camp designed by Mario Loreti, and the Montecatini holiday camp designed by Eugenio Faludi.
From the villas in Liberty style, to large hotels such as the Grand Hotel inaugurated in 1931, right up to the imposing holiday camps, able to accommodate more than a thousand children, the town transforms from town of salt into a pioneering holiday destination.