The foundation of Port Cesenatico was achieved by Cesena, a town which does not lie on the coast and for this reason longed a port.
Cesenatico according to the Annales Caesenates was founded in 1302. But the origins of the spot are more ancient, as they date back to the Roman republican and imperial age, as testified by the numerous archaeological finds, brick-kilns and settlements, situated in the immediate inland of the town.
The name of the site must have been Ad Novas, placename found in a document from the 12th century however a copy of an original one from the 3rd-4th century, the Tabula Peutingeriana.
During the middle ages because of the lack of important streams, to set up the port a “vein” was excavated and a fortified installation was built. Cesenatico, in order to avoid the silting up of its port, was equipped with a system of canals and “veins” partly still existing.
The neighbouring towns of Cervia, Ravenna and Rimini did not appreciate the construction of Port Cesenatico by Cesena and in 1320 after lots of attacks suffered, Pope John XXII in a bull justified and legalized the construction of the spot.
Since 1379 Port Cesenatico, before controlled by the Church’s State, was ruled by the Malatesta family. From 1429 to 1435 Malatesta Novello made important improvements to the structure of the harbour, such as the addition of two moles guardians that extended in the sea would have ensured that water was deep enough for mooring of ships, and a system of veins and basins in order to absorb water during the tide. Since 1452 have been attested masonry banks.
The salt, coming from the ancient salt pans of Cervia, and sulphur, which was carried from the mines in the inland, trade, the latter bought above all by Dutch merchants, made Porto Cesenatico more important.
Cesare Borgia son of Pope Alexander VI, ruled the spot from 1499 to 1503. During this period he called Leonardo da Vinci, to plan again all the fortresses and ports after the discovery of fire-weapons. Of Leonardo da Vinci’s visit to Porto Cesenatico two draws of code L remain, in which the harbour and the built-up area are shown.
On 21st December 1827 with a motu proprio by Leon XII Cesenatico got a complete autonomy, so completing the route which began in the 17th century for the independence from Cesena.
The touristic inclination of Cesenatico began in 1865 with the construction of the first bathing-huts built on the beach and in 1878 when the first bathing establishment was opened.