General Information

Short History of the University

On 11th October 1458 and again on 9th May 1464, the city of L'Aquila petitioned King Ferdinand of Aragon to open a Studium equivalent to those in Bologna, Siena and Perugia. Shortly before, the town had withdrawn support for the last of the Angevin and surrendered to the Spanish sovereign. The King granted this request, but there is no documentary evidence to suggest that the city authorities opened the Studium. On the other hand records do show that both before and after the date of the petition, citizens of L'Aquila (Fra' Giovanni da Capestrano, for example, and Berardino di Ludovico, nephew to the chronicler Francesco d'Angeluccio di Bazzano, who took a degree in 1474) went to study civil and canon law at the Studium in Perugia.

During the last years of the late 16th century, from 1596 on, the Jesuits were providing higher instruction at their college in L'Aquila. When, by a decree of 1767, the Jesuits were expelled from the Kingdom, the Aquilanum Collegium became the Collegio Reale. To the chairs of theology, philosophy and history, mathematics, literature and Greek were added, in 1785, those of sciences such as chemistry, anatomy and the theory and practice of medicine, and in 1792 surgery and midwifery. But when, by the decree of 30th May 1807, Joseph Napoleon reorganized all the Royal Colleges, he suppressed the one in L'Aquila and opened one at the monastery of the Holy Spirit of Morrone, near Sulmona.

Seven years later, on 21st August 1814, a school of higher instruction for all the Abruzzi, with university level teaching in medicine, was inaugurated in L'Aquila by Joachim Murat, Napoleon's brother-in-law. Immediately after the Restoration, by a decree on 14th January 1817, King Ferdinand settled that in L'Aquila, as in Bari, Salerno and Catanzaro, a Reale Liceo be opened, teaching law, anatomy and physiology, surgery and midwifery, chemistry and pharmaceutical studies as well as forensic medicine and various scientific subjects. By a decree of 3rd December 1874 the students of the L'Aquila Reale Liceo were recognised as qualified to practise pharmacy, surgery and land-surveying, but degrees were conferred by the University of Naples, upon which the Licei were dependant. As a result of this decree, the number of students attending the school in L'Aquila, which in 1861 had become the Scuola Universitaria di Farmacia, Notariato e Chirurgia minore, dropped considerably.

In 1923 the "University Schools" ceased to exist. It was not until the summer of 1949 that, due to the efforts of Vincenzo Rivera, professor of agricultural science, fellow of the Accademia Italiana, and a member of the Costituente and several time member of Parliament, summer courses at university level were started in L'Aquila mainly for the benefit of Abruzzi students enrolled at the University of Rome. The success enjoyed by these courses formed the foundation for a free University of L'Aquila, and, thanks to support from local bodies, on 15th December 1952 teaching was inaugurated at the Istituto Universitario di Magistero. It was also thanks to Professor Rivera that an astronomical observatory was established at Campo Imperatore on the Gran Sasso, at 2200 above sea level, as well as the observatory and high altitude botanical gardens, the geo-dynamics observatory, the national magnetism observatory and the museum of paleontology. The creation of an institute of medicine is due to the efforts of Professor Paride Stefanini.

In the academic year 1982-83 the Faculties of Education, Medicine, Engineering and Sciences, which had until that time constituted the free university of L'Aquila (established by a decree of the President of the Republic of 18 August 1964), became state institutions. In 1991 the Faculty of Economics was added and in 1993 the Faculty of Education became the Faculty of Arts. The late 1990s saw the addition of two new faculties: Educational Science in 1996 and Sport Sciences in 1999.

The University of L'Aquila is responsible for running: 1. the Alpine Botanical Garden situated near the cableway on the Gran Sasso, which extends for 3000 sq metres and conserves plant life from the Gran Sasso, endemic central Apennine plant life, primitive alpine plants, plants originating from the Eastern Balkans and medicinal plants; 2. the Botanical garden of the Basilica of Collemaggio, which extends for 5.5 hectares and contains grain, leguminous, aquatic and medicinal plants.

Research and teaching in the University Physics Department benefit from its associations with the underground nuclear physics laboratory in the Gran Sasso. There in the 1980s the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare built beside the motorway tunnel through the Gran Sasso laboratories, where, protected by 1400 metres of rock, research in astrophysics, cosmology, nuclear physics and geophysics is carried out.

The departments of the University of L'Aquila have also established links with research centres all over the world. Many are the research projects involving collaboration with high technology industries, such as for the world market; Dompé Farmeceutici, a prominent company which has recently set up in L'Aquila a factory and research centre; and the Scuola Superiore Reiss Romoli, one of the most advanced teaching and research centres for telecommunications in Europe today.

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