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Sapienza University of Rome

Sapienza University of Rome
Sapienza – Università di Roma
Latin: Studium Urbis
Motto Il futuro è passato qui
Motto in English
The future has passed here
Established 1303
Type Public
Rector Dr. Eugenio Gaudio
Administrative staff
Students 112,564[1]
Location Rome, Italy
Campus Urban
Colors          [2]
Athletics CUS Roma
Affiliations European Spatial Development Planning, Partnership of a European Group of Aeronautics and Space Universities, CINECA, Santander Network, Institutional Network of the Universities from the Capitals of Europe, Mediterranean Universities Union.

The Sapienza University of Rome, officially Sapienza – Università di Roma, also called simply Sapienza[3][1] or the "University of Rome", is a collegiate research university located in Rome, Italy. Formerly known as Università degli studi di Roma "La Sapienza", it is the largest European university by enrollments (the third if considering also the distance learning schools)[4] and one of the oldest in the history, founded in 1303.

Sapienza University of Rome is one of the most reputable universities and among the most prestigious European universities.

La Sapienza educated numerous notable alumni, including many Nobel laureates, presidents of the European Parliament, heads of several nations, notable religious figures, scientists and astronauts.[5]


  • History 1
  • Campuses 2
    • Points of interest 2.1
  • Academics 3
  • Ranking 4
  • Admission 5
  • Controversies 6
  • Notable alumni 7
    • Some of the notable alumni and professors 7.1
    • Faculty and staff 7.2
      • Humanities 7.2.1
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • See also 10
  • External links 11


Palazzo della Sapienza, former home of the University until 1935.
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,[6] making it the first pontifical university.

In 1431 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.

Sapienza University has many campuses in Rome but its main campus is the Città Universitaria (University city), which covers 439,000 m2 (4,730,000 sq ft) 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.[7] 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[8] (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


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. It offers 10 Masters Programmes taught entirely in English.


(2015, national)
(2015, world)
(2014/15, national)
(2014/15, world)
(2014/15, national)
(2014/15, world)
CENSIS-La Repubblica (state mega-universities)[12]
(2014, national)
Il Sole 24 Ore (state universities)[13]
(2015, national)

According to the American U.S News & World Report, Sapienza University of Rome is one of the most reputable European Universities and the most prestigious Italian University.[14]

As claimed by the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Arwu), Sapienza is regularly ranked first among Southern European universities. Sapienza is positioned within the 101-150 group of universities and among the top 3% of universities in the world.[15][16] On the report of several magazines, La Sapienza is usually considered as one of the top ten best Universities in Europe, being the first in Southern Europe.[17]

In 2013, the Center for World University Rankings ranked the Sapienza University of Rome as the 62nd in the world and the top in Italy in its World University Rankings.[18]


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.


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[19] due to protests by some students and professors.[20] The title of speech would have been 'The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness is Truth'.[21] 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.[19]

Notable alumni

Some of the notable alumni and professors

Picture Alumni and professors Academic degree Note Awards
Evangelista Torricelli Physics Inventor of the barometer. He made significant contributions in optics and on the method of indivisibles.
Enrico Fermi Physics Physicist, colleague and close friend of Ettore Majorana. A key figure in the creation of the Atomic Bomb, he discovered: 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 (1938)[22]
Maria Montessori Natural sciences Founder of the Montessori method of education, regarded to be one of the most influential female physicians
Emilio Gino Segrè Physics Physicist, colleague and close friend of Ettore Majorana. A key figure in the creation of the Atomic Bomb, he helped discover Antiproton, Astatine, sub-atomic antiparticle and fully discovered the technetium Nobel Prize in Physics (1938)
Angelo Celli Medicine Pioneer malarial parasite and control of malaria. One of the earliest persons to advocate and practically worked for eradication of insects to prevent infectious disease
Daniel Bovet Psychobiology 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 (1957)
Pietro Belluschi 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)
Ennio de Giorgi Mathematics Mathematician, who worked on partial differential equations. He solved Bernstein's problem about minimal surfaces. He solved Hilbert's nineteenth problem on the regularity of solutions of elliptic partial differential equation. Caccioppoli Prize (1960), Wolf Prize (1990)
Federico Fellini Law One of the greatest filmmakers of the 21st century Academy Honorary Award, European Film Awards
Umberto Guidoni Astrophysics European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency astronaut (ESA/ASI) and a veteran of two NASA space shuttle mission
Mario Draghi 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
Sergio Balanzino Law Deputy Secretary General of NATO. Two times NATO General Secretary
Antonio Tajani Law European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Federica Mogherini Political Science High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Sergio Mattarella Law The 12th current President of Italy
Vito Volterra Mathematical physics mathematician and physicist, known for the theory of integral equations and the Lotka–Volterra equations
Cesare Borgia Law condottiero, nobleman, politician, and cardinal
Gabriele d'Annunzio Literature poet, journalist, playwright, soldier, politician. He was part of the literary movement called the Decadent movement.
Bernardo Bertolucci Modern literature 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
Charles Ponzi Business Known for the fraudulent business scheme named after him, the Ponzi scheme
Nicola Cabibbo Physics President of Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics and of Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Attilio Celant Economics Dean of the Faculty of Economics of "Sapienza" University of Rome (2002-2011).
Enrico Giovannini 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.
Maurizio Cheli Geophysics European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency astronaut(ESA/ASI) and a veteran of one NASA space shuttle mission
Abdirashid Ali Shermarke Political Science 2nd President of Somalia
Luca Cordero di Montezemolo Accounting Chairman of Ferrari, president of Confindustria, president of Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV). He was also the Chairman of Fiat S.p.A from 2004 to 2010.
Gaetano Fichera Mathematics 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.
Ignazio Visco Economics Governor of the Banca d'Italia (Bank of Italy)
Carlo Fea Law archaeologist
Marcello Piacentini Architecture architect urban theorist and the official architect of the Fascist regime
Lina Bo Bardi Architecture architect
Massimiliano Fuksas Architecture architect Grand Prix d'Architecture Française (1999), Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française (2000), Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects (2002), Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2006)
Mario Catania Literature and Arts Head of Department of European and International Policies at the Agriculture Ministry. Italian Minister of Agriculture
Carlo Verdone Modern literature Prominent actor, screenwriter and film director.
Franco Frattini Law Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Paolo Gentiloni Political Science Former Minister of Communications of Italy. Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2014
Giorgio Gaja Law He was elected in 2011 as a judge of the International Court of Justice
Pier Carlo Padoan Economics Deputy Secretary General at the OECD in Paris, and their chief economist. OECD 's G20 Finance Deputy,leads the initiatives 'Strategic Response', 'Green Growth' and 'Innovation'. Italy's finance minister
Marco Abbondanza 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.
Romaldo Giurgola 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)
Paolo Portoghesi Architecture architect
Carlo Aymonino Architecture architect Hononary Fellow at The American Institute of Architects
Scott O'Dell History 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
Giorgio Agamben Philosophy Philosopher best known for his work investigating the concepts of the state of exception, form-of-life and homo sacer.

Faculty and staff

Among the prominent scholars who have taught at the Sapienza University of Rome are architects Roberto Forges Davanzati



  1. ^ Pronounced ; Italian for "knowledge" or "wisdom".


  1. ^ "Anagrafe Nazionale Studenti". 
  2. ^ "Sapienza University of Rome – Identity Guidelines". 
  3. ^ Official Sapienza University of Rome name and logos writing guidelines
  4. ^ "Chi siamo - Sapienza - Università di Roma". 
  5. ^ "Sapienza" (PDF). UniRoma. 2014. Retrieved July 11, 2014. 
  6. ^ History
  7. ^ "Pietralata, i lavori del campus inizieranno a fine 2012". (in Italian). Nuovo Paese Sera srl. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Home - Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina". 
  9. ^ a b "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2014/15". Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Top European Universities 2014-15". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  12. ^ "Classifica completa Censis delle Università italiane 2014/2015". Classifica completa Censis delle Università italiane 2014/2015 (in Italian). Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  13. ^ "La classifica delle migliori università italiane - Edizione 2015". Il Sole 24 Ore (in Italian). Retrieved 7 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Classifica delle università, studio Usa: La Sapienza primo ateneo in Italia", 
  15. ^ "Sapienza among Top World Universities - Sapienza - Università di Roma". 
  16. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities - 2012 - Top 500 universities - Shanghai Ranking - 2012 - World University Ranking - 2012". 
  17. ^ "Europe". 
  18. ^ "". Center for World University Rankings. 2013. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Papal visit scuppered by scholars 15 January 2008
  20. ^ "The letter of the scientists to the rector of the University" (in Italian). Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  21. ^ Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza 18 January 2008
  22. ^ "Enrico Fermi - Biographical". 

See also

External links

  • (Italian) Sapienza University of Rome Italian Website
  • (English) Sapienza University of Rome English Website
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