University of Pisa

The University of Pisa is a public institution boasting twenty departments, with high level research centres in the sectors of agriculture, astrophysics, computer science, engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine. Furthermore the University has close relations with the Pisan Institutes of the National Board of Research, with many cultural institutions of national and international importance, and with industry, especially that of information technology, which went through a phase of rapid expansion in Pisa during the nineteen sixties and seventies.

The University of Pisa was officially established in 1343, although a number of scholars claim its origin dates back to the 11th century.

The earliest evidence of a Pisan "Studium" dates to 1338, when the renowned jurist Ranieri Arsendi transferred to Pisa from Bologna. He along with Bartolo Da Sassoferrato, a lecturer in Civil Law, were paid by the Municipality to teach public lessons.

The papal bull 'In supremae dignitatis', granted by Pope Clement VI on 3 September 1343, recognized the 'Studium' of Pisa as a 'Studium Generale'; an institution of further education founded or confirmed by a universal authority, the Papacy or Empire. Pisa was one of the first European universities that could boast this papal attestation, which guaranteed the universal, legal value of its educational qualifications.

The first taught subjects were: Theology, Civil Law, Canon Law and Medicine. In 1355 Francesco Da Buti, the well-known commentator of Dante's Divine Comedy, began teaching at the "Studium".

Pisa and its "Studium" underwent a period of crisis around the turn of the 15th century: the Florentines' conquering of the town ruined its economic and social life. Indeed, there is a lack of documentary evidence of the University's regular functioning for decades.

In 1473, thanks to Lorenzo dei Medici, the Pisan Studium resumed its systematic development and the construction of a building for holding lessons was provided for in 1486. The building - later known as Palazzo della Sapienza (The Building of Knowledge) - was located in the fourteenth-century Piazza del Grano. The image of a cherub was placed Above the Gate "Dell'Abbondanza" (the Gate of Abundance), leading to the Piazza, still today the symbol of the University.

Following the rebellion against Florence in1494 and the war following, the Pisan Studium suffered a period of decline, and was transferred to Pistoia, Prato and Florence. The ceremonial re-opening of the University, on 1 November 1543, under rule by Duke Cosimo I dei Medici, was considered as a second inauguration. The quality of the University was furthered by the statute of 1545 and the Pisan Athenaeum became one of the most significant in Europe for teaching and research. The chair of "Semplici" (Botany) was held by Luca Ghini, founder of the world's first Botanical Gardens, succeeded by Andrea Cesalpino, who pioneered the first scientific methodology for the classification of plants and is considered a forerunner in the discovery of blood circulation. Gabriele Fallopio and Marcello Malpighi lectured in Anatomy and Medicine.