Sapienza University of Rome

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The Sapienza University of Rome, officially Sapienza – Università di Roma, also called simply Sapienza formerly known as Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza", is a coeducational, autonomous state university in Rome, Italy. It is the largest European university by enrollmentsTemplate:Citation needed and the oldest of Rome's four state-funded universities. In Italian, sapienza means "wisdom" or "knowledge".

Sapienza is present in all major international university rankings. It is among the best Italian universities. According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Arwu) compiled by the Jiao Tong University of Shanghai, Sapienza is regularly ranked first among Italian universities along with the University of Pisa. Sapienza is positioned within the 101-150 group of universities and among the top 3% of universities in the world.

In 2013, the Center for World University Rankings ranked the Sapienza University of Rome 62nd in the world and the top in Italy in its World University Rankings.


File:Innenhof des Palazzo della Sapienza.jpg
Palazzo della Sapienza, former home of the University until 1935.
File:Borromini SantIvo.jpg
Church of Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza, originally the chapel and seat of the university library (until 1935).

Sapienza University of Rome was founded in 1303 with the Papal bull In supremae praeminentia dignitatis issued on 20 April 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII, as a Studium for ecclesiastical studies more under his control than the universities of Bologna and Padua, making it the first pontifical university.

In 1431 Pope Eugene IV completely reorganized the studium with the bull In supremae, in which he granted masters and students alike the broadest possible privileges and decreed that the university should include the four schools of Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. He introduced a new tax on wine in order to raise funds for the university; the money was used to buy a palace which later housed the Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza church.

However, the University's days of splendour came to an end during the sack of Rome in 1527, when the studium was closed and the professors dispersed; some were killed. Pope Paul III restored the university shortly after his ascension to the pontificate in 1534.

In the 1650s the university became known as Sapienza, meaning wisdom, a title it retains. In 1703, Pope Clement XI purchased some land with his private funds on the Janiculum, where he made a botanical garden, which soon became the most celebrated in Europe through the labours of the Trionfetti brothers.

University students were newly animated during the 19th-century Italian revival. In 1870, La Sapienza stopped being the papal university and became the university of the capital of Italy. In 1935 the new university campus, planned by Marcello Piacentini, was completed.


The new campus of Rome University, built in 1935 by Marcello Piacentini, in a 1938 picture.

Template:One source Sapienza University has many campuses in Rome but its main campus is the Città Universitaria (University city), which covers Template:Convert near Termini Station. The university has some satellite campuses outside Rome, the main of which is in Latina.

In 2011 a project was launched to build a campus with residence halls near Pietralata station, in collaboration with the Lazio region.Template:Update inline In order to cope with the ever-increasing number of applicants, the Rector has also approved a new plan to expand the Città Universitaria, reallocate offices and enlarge faculties, as well as create new campuses for hosting local and foreign students.

The Alessandrina University Library (Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina), built in 1667 by Pope Alexander VII, is the main library housing 1.5 million volumes; it has some important collections including collezione ciceroniana, Fondo Festa, etc.

Points of interest

  • Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza", a botanical garden
  • Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
  • San Pietro in Vincoli: the cloister is part of the Faculty of Engineering
  • Villa Mirafiori: a Neo-Renaissance palace built during the 19th century,some rooms are decorated with fine frescoes. The Department of Philosophy is located in this building.


Template:Primary sources Since the 2011 reform, Sapienza University of Rome has eleven faculties and 65 departments. Today Sapienza, with 140,000 students and 8,000 among academic and technical and administrative staff, is the largest university in Italy.

The university has significant research programmes in the fields of engineering, natural sciences, biomedical sciences and humanities.


In order to cope with the large demand for admission to the university courses, some faculties hold a series of entrance examinations. The entrance test often decides which candidates will have access to the undergraduate course. For some faculties, the entrance test is only a means through which the administration acknowledges the students' level of preparation. Students that do not pass the test can still enroll in their chosen degree courses but have to pass an additional exam during their first year.


In 1990, Pope John Paul II faced small protests in his only visit to La Sapienza.Template:Citation needed

On January 15, 2008 the Vatican cancelled a planned visit to La Sapienza University by Pope Benedict XVI who was to speak at the university ceremony launching the 2008 academic year<ref name="bbc">BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Papal visit scuppered by scholars 15 January 2008</ref> due to protests by some students and professors. The title of speech should have been 'The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness is Truth'. Some students and professors protested in reaction to a 1990 speech that Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) gave in which he, in their opinion, endorsed the actions of the church against Galileo in 1633.<ref name="bbc"/>

Other controversies include the murder of Professor Ezio Tarantelli in 1985, the murder of Marta Russo in 1997, the "Law School scandal" in 2003, the "Parentopoli scandal" in 2010 and the award given to Muammar Gaddafi on June 10, 2009 (Medaglia d'Oro dell'Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza").<ref name="washingtonpost1">Template:Cite web</ref> This award is an institutional gift given by Sapienza to foreign authorities visiting the University. During his visit, Gaddafi participated in a meeting with Sapienza's students, where he was asked about a number of controversial aspects regarding Libya's political choices, such as human rights of migrants, gender equality and free elections.<ref name="washingtonpost1"/>

Notable people

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Notable Alumni

Picture Alumni Born Died Academic degree Note Awards
50px Emilio Gino Segrè 1905 1989 Physics Physicist,colleague and close friend of Ettore Majorana. His Doctoral advisor was Enrico Fermi. He helped discover Antiproton, Astatine, sub-atomic antiparticle. He discovered Technetium. Nobel Prize in Physics 30px (1959)
50px Enrico Fermi 1901 1954 Physics Professor Physicist,colleague and close friend of Ettore Majorana. He was Doctoral advisor of Emilio Gino Segrè. He descovered: new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation,Controlled nuclear chain reaction. He's also known for the Fermi–Dirac statistics and The Theory of beta decay Nobel Prize in Physics 30px (1938)
50px Daniel Bovet 1907 1992 Psychobiology Professor Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1957)for his discovery of drugs that block the actions of specific neurotransmitters. He is best known for his discovery in 1937 of antihistamines, which block the neurotransmitter histamine and are used in allergy medication Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 30px (1957)
50px Pietro Belluschi 1899 1994 Civil Engineering Leader of the Modern Movement in architecture. Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning(1951-1965). Collaborator and Design Consultant for Pan Am Building. AIA Gold Medal (1972)
50px Ennio de Giorgi 1922 1996 Maths He was an Italian mathematician, who worked on partial differential equations. He solved Bernstein's problem about minimal surfaces. He solved 19th Hilbert problem on the regularity of solutions of Elliptic partial differential equation. Caccioppoli Prize (1960), Wolf Prize(1990)
Romaldo Giurgola 1920 Literature and Arts ex Professor at Cornell, University of Pennsylvania and Columbia, before becoming chair of the Columbia architectural department in 1966. He is presently Ware Professor Emeritus of Architecture at Columbia. AIA Gold Medal (1982)
50px Bernardo Bertolucci 1940 Modern Literature Italian film director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and The Dreamers 2 Nastro d'Argento Best Director, Academy Award for Best Director, Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, Golden Globe Award for Best Director, Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay, David di Donatello for Best Director, David di Donatello for Best Script, Golden Lion for his career at the Venice Film Festival,Honorary Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival
Scott O'Dell 1898 1989 American children's author who wrote Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960), which won the 1961 Newbery Medal and the 1963 Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis as well as the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, of The King's Fifth (1966), Black Star, Bright Dawn (1988), The Black Pearl (1967), and Sing Down the Moon (1970); which were all also Newbery Honor Newbery Medal (1961), Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis,several Newbery Honor awards
50px Cesare Borgia 1475 1507 condottiero, nobleman, politician, and cardinal
50px Gabriele d'Annunzio 1863 1938 poet, journalist, playwright, soldier, politician. He was part of the literary movement called the Decadent movement.
50px Vito Volterra 1860 1940 Mathematical Physics Professor Italian mathematician and physicist, known for Theory of integral equations and the Lotka–Volterra equations
50px Maria Montessori 1870 1952 Natural sciences Founder of the Montessori method of education
50px Charles Ponzi 1882 1949 Known for the fraudulent business scheme named after him,the Ponzi scheme
50px Nicola Cabibbo 1935 2010 Physics Ex President of Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics and of Pontifical Academy of Sciences
50px Attilio Celant 1942 Economics Dean of the Faculty of Economics of "Sapienza" University of Rome (2002-2011).
50px Mario Draghi 1947 Economics President of the European Central Bank. Governor for Italy on the Boards of Governors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development Bank. Ex governor of the Bank of Italy. Ex Italian Executive Director at the World Bank. Ex director general of the Italian Treasury. Ex vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International
50px Umberto Guidoni 1954 Astrophysics European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency astronaut(ESA/ASI) and a veteran of two NASA space shuttle mission
50px Enrico Giovannini 1957 Economics, Statistics Italian Minister of Labor and Social Policies, President of the Italian Statistical Institute (Istat). Chief Statistician and Director of the Statistics Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Professor of Economic Statistics.
50px Maurizio Cheli 1959 Geophysics European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency astronaut(ESA/ASI) and a veteran of one NASA space shuttle mission
Abdirashid Ali Shermarke 1919 1969 Political Science 2nd President of Somalia
50px Luca Cordero di Montezemolo 1947 Italian businessman and Chairman of Ferrari, president of Confindustria, president of Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori(NTV). He was also Chairman of Fiat S.p.A from 2004 to 2010.
50px Gaetano Fichera 1951 Literature and Arts He was an Italian mathematician, working in mathematical analysis, linear elasticity, partial differential equations and several complex variables. Member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze detta dei XL and of the Russian Academy of Science.
50px Ignazio Visco 1949 Economics Governor of the Banca d'Italia (Bank of Italy)
50px Carlo Fea 1753 1836 Law Italian archaeologist
50px Massimiliano Fuksas 1944 Architecture Italian architect
50px Mario Catania 1952 Literature and Arts Ex Head of Department of European and International Policies at the Agriculture Ministry. Italian Minister of Agriculture
Marco Abbondanza 1953 Medicine and Surgery Medical doctor and eye surgeon. Creator of the Mini Asymmetric Radial Keratotomy (M.A.R.K.) and popularizer of the Cross-linking.
Paolo Leon 1935 Economics prominent Italian Post Keynesian economist
Sergio Balanzino 1934 Law Deputy Secretary General of NATO. Two times NATO General Secretary
50px Franco Frattini 1957 Law ex Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
50px Antonio Tajani 1953 Law European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Leopoldo Elia 1925 2008 Law ex Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Giorgio Gaja 1939 Law He was elected in 2011 as a judge of the International Court of Justice
Jorge Eliécer Gaitán 1903 Law Colombian Politician

Faculty and staff

Among the prominent scholars who have taught at the Sapienza University of Rome are architects Ernesto Basile and Bruno Zevi; chemist Emanuele Paternò; jurists Antonio Salandra, Sabino Cassese and Giuliano Amato; mathematician Vito Volterra; pharmacologist and Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine Daniel Bovet; chemist and Nobel Laureate Giulio Natta; philosophers Luigi Ferri, Augusto Del Noce and Vittorio Somenzi; physicist and Nobel Laureate in Physics Enrico Fermi; political scientist Roberto Forges Davanzati

  • Carlo Costamagna
  • Cardinal Mazarin
  • Mario Oriani-Ambrosini
  • Corrado Gini, statistician
  • Lucio Bini and Ugo Cerletti, psychiatrists
  • Corrado Böhm, computer scientist
  • Benedetto Castelli, mathematician
  • Andrea Cesalpino, physician and botanist
  • Federigo Enriques, mathematician
  • Maria Montessori, physician and paedagogist
  • Paola S. Timiras, biologist
  • Barnaba Tortolini, mathematician
  • Edoardo Amaldi
  • Oscar D'Agostino
  • Ettore Majorana
  • Bruno Pontecorvo
  • Franco Rasetti
  • Giovanni Battista Beccaria
  • Giovanni Jona-Lasinio
  • Luciano Maiani
  • Domenico Pacini
  • Antonio Signorini
  • Nicola Cabibbo, President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences


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  • Cesare Borgia, Cardinal of the 15th century
  • Piero Boitani, literary critic, writer and academic
  • Giovanni Vincenzo Gravina, jurisconsult
  • Silvia Berti, historian
  • Lazarus Buonamici, renaissance humanist
  • Umberto Cassuto, Hebrew language and Bible scholar
  • Marcel Danesi, language scientist
  • Carlo Innocenzio Maria Frugoni, poet
  • Count Angelo de Gubernatis, orientalist
  • Predrag Matvejevic, writer and academic
  • Santo Mazzarino, leading historian of ancient Rome and ancient Greece
  • Giuseppe Tucci, orientalist
  • Mario Liverani, orientalist
  • Paolo Matthiae, director of the archeological expedition of Ebla
  • Antonio Nibby, archaeologist
  • Diego Laynez, second general of the Society of Jesus;
  • Giulio Mazzarino, politician and cardinal
  • Giulio Salvadori, literary critic and poet
  • Giuseppe Scaraffia, literary critic
  • Ugo Spirito, philosopher
  • Giuseppe Ungaretti, poet
  • Bernardino Varisco, philosopher
  • Musine Kokalari, Albanian writer

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See also

  • European Spatial Development Planning ESDP-Network
  • List of medieval universities



External links

Template:Ita Uni Template:Rome universities Template:UNICA Template:UNIMED Template:Use dmy dates