There are many reasons to choose Italy for studying. Its history, cultural heritage, gastronomy, climate and the warmth of its people make Italy one of the most attractive countries not only for tourism, but also to study a career
In this article we present the 10 best universities in Italy. We briefly tell you the most important aspects of each of them as well as their history
Top 10 Universities in Italy
1- University of Bologna
The University of Bologna (Italian: Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, UNIBO) is a research university in Bologna, Italy
Founded in 1088 by an organized guild of students (hence studiorum), it is the oldest continuously operating university in the world, and the first university in the sense of an institute of higher education and degree-granting, as the word universitas was coined at its foundation.
Since its foundation, it has attracted numerous scholars, intellectuals and students from all over Italy and the world, and has established itself as one of the leading international centers of learning.
It was the first place of study to use the term universitas for student and teacher corporations, which came to define the institution (especially its famous law faculty) located in Bologna. The university’s emblem bears the motto Alma Mater Studiorum (“Nurturing Mother of Studies”) and the date 1088 AD, and it has some 86,500 students in its 11 schools.
It has campuses in Cesena, Forlì, Ravenna and Rimini and an overseas branch center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It also has a school of excellence called Collegio Superiore di Bologna. A publishing house associated with the University of Bologna is Bononia University Press.
The University of Bologna saw the first woman to earn a university degree and teach at a university, Bettisia Gozzadini, and the first woman to earn both a doctorate in science and a salaried position as a university professor, Laura Bassi.
2- University of Padua
The University of Padua (Italian: Università degli Studi di Padova, UNIPD) is an Italian university located in the city of Padua, Veneto region, in northern Italy
It was founded in 1222 by a group of students and professors from Bologna. Padua is the second oldest university in Italy and the fifth oldest in the world. In 2010, the university had about 65,000 students
In 2021, it was ranked as the second “best university” among Italian institutions of higher education with more than 40,000 students according to the Censis institute, and among the top 200 universities in the world according to ARWU.
3- Sapienza University of Rome
Sapienza University of Rome (Italian: Sapienza – Università di Roma), also called simply Sapienza or University of Rome, and formally Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza”, is a public research university located in Rome, Italy
It is one of the largest European universities by number of students and one of the oldest in history, founded in 1303. The university is one of the most prestigious in Italy and in the world, routinely ranking first in national and Southern European rankings In 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022 it ranked first in the world in Classics and Ancient History.
Most of the Italian ruling class studied at La Sapienza. La Sapienza educated numerous notable alumni, including many Nobel laureates, presidents of the European Parliament and European commissioners, heads of various nations, notable religious figures, scientists and astronauts. In September 2018, it was included in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings Graduate Employability Ranking.
4- University of Milan
The University of Milan (Italian: Università degli Studi di Milano; Latin: Universitas Studiorum Mediolanensis), colloquially known as UniMi or Statale, is a public research university in Milan, Italy. It is one of the largest universities in Europe, with about 60,000 students, and a permanent teaching and research staff of about 2,000.
It has ten schools and offers 140 undergraduate and graduate programs, 32 doctoral schools and more than 65 specialization schools. The University’s research and teaching activities have grown over the years and have received important international recognition.
The University is the only Italian member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), a group of twenty-one research-intensive European universities. It is consistently ranked as Italy’s top university(ARWU) sharing the place with the University of Pisa and Sapienza University of Rome, and is also one of the best universities in Italy, both overall and in specific subject areas in other ranking systems.
It has been frequented by many notable alumni, including a Nobel laureate in physics, Riccardo Giacconi, a Fields medalist, Enrico Bombieri, as well as former prime ministers Silvio Berlusconi and Bettino Craxi. The university has also had notable professors such as the Nobel laureate in chemistry Giulio Natta, and the Wolf Prize in physics Giuseppe Occhialini.
5- University of Naples Federico II
The University of Naples Federico II (Italian: Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II) is a public university in Naples, Italy
Founded in 1224, it is the oldest non-sectarian public university in the world, and is currently organized into 26 departments
It was the first European university dedicated to the training of lay administrative staff, and is one of the oldest continuously operating academic institutions
Federico II is the third largest university in Italy by number of students enrolled, but despite its size it remains one of the best universities in Italy and in the world, in southern Italy it has led the 1st Ranking since its inception, standing out especially for research; in 2015 it ranked among the top 100 universities in the world for citations per article.
The university is named after its founder Frederick II. In October 2016 the university hosted the first Apple IOS Developer Academy and in 2018 the Cisco Digital Transformation Lab.
6- University of Pisa
The University of Pisa (Italian: Università di Pisa, UniPi), is one of the oldest and most prestigious in Italy and Europe.
It was officially founded in 1343, although several scholars place its origins in the eleventh century. However, it is certain that since the mid-12th century Pisa had a “Universitas” in the original sense of the word, i.e. a group of students who gathered around teachers
It was at this time that Leonardo Fibonacci was born and worked. He was one of the greatest mathematicians in history who, with his work, synthesized for the first time in Europe the spirit and processes of Greek geometry and the tools of Arabic mathematics.
The papal seal “In Supremae dignitatis”, issued by Pope Clement VI on September 3, 1343, granted the Studium of Pisa the title of Studium Generale with several exclusive privileges, for which it was universally recognized
In medieval times, the Studium Generale was an institute of higher education founded or confirmed by a universal authority, namely the papacy or the empire. Pisa was one of the first European cities to hold a papal attestation, followed by Prague in 1347 and Heidelberg in 1386. At the beginning, Pisa established lessons in theology, civil law, canon law and medicine.
The early years of the new Studium were particularly difficult, although there is documentary evidence showing persistent academic activity with a slow recovery from 1355 onwards.
In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, Pisa and its Studium were heading towards a slow death. The war, which had allowed the Florentines to conquer the city, was so detrimental from a social and economic point of view that it made it impossible to preserve the most essential academic activity.
The Ruberti reform of 1989, which provided for the statutory autonomy of the universities, forced the University to approve a new Statute, whose overall structure was only called into question with the so-called “Gelmini reform” in 2010. This led to the approval of the 2012 Statute and the organizational arrangement that excluded the 11 Faculties in favor of 20 Departments.
Today, the University is divided into 20 Departments, with about 150 first and second level degrees, and single cycle degrees, more than 20 doctoral courses, 50 specialization schools and more than 60 postgraduate courses
There are more than 1,500 faculty members and a slightly higher number of administrative staff, technicians, foreign language assistants and librarians. There are about 50,000 students enrolled, and in a city with a population of about 90,000, this makes Pisa a truly urban campus
Students come mainly from Tuscany and Liguria, with a significant number from other regions, especially southern Italy. A considerable number of students are also foreign, which contributes to the open, lively and multicultural character of the city.
Thanks to the tradition and high quality of studies, to the vocation for research and innovation, to the presence of a system consisting of the Scuola Normale Superiore, the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and important research centers, the University of Pisa enjoys an excellent reputation both in Italy and in Europe, as evidenced by the various international rankings that place it among the best universities in the world and at the head of Italy.
Among the many graduates of the University of Pisa are Nobel Prize winners Giosuè Carducci, Enrico Fermi and Carlo Rubbia, the holders of the Field Medal in Mathematics, Enrico Bombieri and Alessio Figalli, the Presidents of the Republic, Giovanni Gronchi and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, the film directors Mario Monicelli and Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, and the writers Tiziano Terzani and Antonio Tabucchi. The most famous Pisa graduate in the world today is the tenor Andrea Bocelli.
7- University of Turin
The University of Turin (Italian: Università degli Studi di Torino, UNITO) is a public research university located in the city of Turin, in the Italian region of Piedmont
It is one of the oldest universities in Europe and continues to play an important role in research and training.
It is consistently ranked among the top 5 Italian universities and ranks third in terms of research activities in Italy, according to the latest ANVUR data.
8- University of Trento
The University of Trento (Italian: Università degli Studi di Trento) is an Italian university located in Trento and nearby Rovereto
According to CENSIS and the Italian Ministry of Education, it has achieved considerable results in didactics, research and international relations.
Didactic and scientific activities are concentrated around three main “areas”: the city area, with the Departments of Economics and Management, Sociology and Social Research, Humanities, the Faculty of Law and the School of International Studies; the hill area, with the Departments of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, Information and Computer Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Mathematics, Physics and the CIBIO – Center for Integrative Biology; the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences and the CIMeC – Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of Rovereto.
9- University of Florence
The University of Florence (Italian: Università degli Studi di Firenze, UniFI) is an Italian public research university located in Florence, Italy. It consists of 12 schools and has about 60,000 students enrolled.
The first university in Florence was the Studium Generale, created by the Florentine Republic in 1321. The Studium was recognized by Pope Clement VI in 1349, and authorized to grant regular degrees. The Pope also established that the first Italian faculty of theology would be in Florence. The Studium became an imperial university in 1364, but moved to Pisa in 1473 when Lorenzo the Magnificent gained control of Florence. Charles VIII moved it again from 1497 to 1515, but it was moved back to Pisa when the Medici family returned to power.
The modern university dates from 1859, when a group of disparate institutions of higher learning were grouped into the Istituto di Studi Pratici e di Perfezionamento, which a year later was recognized as a full-fledged university by the government of the newly unified Italy. In 1923, the Istituto received the official denomination of University by the Italian Parliament.
The 12 schools of the university are: Agriculture
- Natural Sciences
- Political Science
The faculties are located in traditionally strategic areas according to their subject matter. The Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Political Science are located in the Polo delle Scienze Sociali (social sciences campus), in the Novoli district, near the new courthouse. The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, the Faculty of Pharmacology and some scientific and engineering departments are located in the Careggi district, near the hospital
The Faculty of Engineering is located at the S. Marta Institute, while the Faculty of Agriculture is in front of the Parco delle Cascine. The Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences is located in Sesto Fiorentino. The Faculty of Architecture is in the city center, as is the Accademia di Belle Arti, home of Michelangelo’s David. The faculties of Literature, History, Philosophy and Pedagogy are in the center of Florence.
10- University of Genoa
The University of Genoa, also known by the acronym UniGe (Italian: Università di Genova), is one of the largest universities in Italy
It is located in the city of Genoa and the regional metropolitan city of Genoa, on the Italian Riviera, in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy. The original university was founded in 1481.
According to Microsoft Academic Search 2016 rankings, the University of Genoa holds top positions among European universities in multiple fields of computer science:
- In machine learning and pattern recognition the University of Genoa is the best scientific institution in Italy and ranks 36th in Europe;
- In computer vision, the University of Genoa is the best scientific institution in Italy and ranks 34th in Europe;[
- In computer graphics, the University of Genoa is the second institution in Italy and 35th in Europe.
It maintains a close collaboration with the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), since its foundation in 2005.
The University of Genoa is currently implementing a major project for a new Faculty of Engineering within the scientific-technological park of the Great Erzelli Campus in the western part of Genoa. Contracts were signed in October 2018, the final project should come out in 2019, construction works should start in 2020 and the new faculty should open in 2023.
Since its foundation it has awarded 46 gold medals to Italian students, and 2 gold medals to international students, namely to the Israeli student Khor hoksari in 1993, and to the Albanian student Agasi Bledar in 2021. It has awarded 122 honorary degrees to its alumni, and has been part of a continuous public opening for the past 20 years.
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