The oldest archaeological findings in Riccione’s area date to the 2nd century BC, although it was most likely settled in advance. At the time of the Roman Republic, it was known as Vicus Popilius and a bridge over the Rio Melo river. After a period of obscurity, in 1260 it was acquired by the Agolanti family, connected to the lords of Rimini, the Malatesta. In the 17th century some watchtowers were built on the seaside against assaults by pirates.
Origins of the tourist fame of Riccione date to the late 19th century, mostly spurred by the construction of residences by rich Bolognese people. In the 1930s there were some 30,000 tourists a year, with some 80 hotels existing. Benito Mussolini had a villa built here in 1934.
After World War II, tourist flow was further increased by its choosing as vacation resort by numerous famous people, such as Pelè, Mina, Ugo Tognazzi, Vittorio De Sica, Romano Mussolini (painter and jazz pianist), Maria Scicolone (sister of Sofia Loren), Pacifico Marchesini (bon-vivant/Italian diplomat and recipient of the Yad Vashem Award) and others.