The University of Pavia is one of the world’s oldest academic institutions, with its foundations existing as early as the 9th Century. An edict by King Lotharius recognizes that a higher education institution was already established in Pavia in 825, which was mainly devoted to the study of law. He then appointed it as the main education site for Northern Italy.

Enlarged and renovated by the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, it became the University of the Duchy, officially established as a Studium Generale by Emperor Charles IV in 1361.

After a period of social unrest and hardship in the 16th and 17th centuries, the rebirth of the university occurred in the second half of the 1700s with the radical reforms of Maria Theresa and Joseph II of Habsburg. Until the 20th Century, it remained the only university in Lombardy.

The University of Pavia boasts an impressive number of famous alumni including:

  • Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
    Explorer; “discoverer of the New World”; believed to have studied at the University of Pavia- for more info visit this page
  • Gerolamo Cardano (1501-76)
    Physician and mathematician; namesake of the cardanic joint; studied and later became a Professor of Medicine at Pavia
  • Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-99)
    Physiologist and biologist; contributed to the study of bodily functions and animal reproduction; Chair of Natural History at the University from 1769 until his death
  • Alessandro Volta (1745-1827)
    Physicist; inventor of the electric battery; Chair of Physics at the University of Pavia
  • Lorenzo Mascheroni (1750-1800)
    Mathematician; works include the Mohr-Mascheroni theorem and Euler-Mascheroni constant; Professor of Algebra and Geometry at UniPV
  • Antonio Scarpa(1752-1832)
    Anatomist; discovered Scarpa’s fascia and Scarpa’s triangle among others; Professor of Anatomy at Pavia; in 1805 Napoleon insisted Scarpa was restored as Chair after he was dismissed because of his political opinions; you can still see Scarpa’s head in the University History Museum!
  • Ugo Foscolo (1778-1827)
    Poet and novelist; famous works include Dei Sepolcri; urged young people to study literature for national life and growth; Chair of Italian Eloquence at Pavia
  • Camillo Golgi (1843-1926)
    “The greatest neuroscientist and biologist of all time”; discovered the black reaction, Golgi tendon organ and the Golgi complex among others; winner of the 1906 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine; studied, worked, and taught at the University
  • Giulio Natta(1903-79)
    Chemist; winner of the 1963 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for work on high polymers; Professor and Director of the Institute of General Chemistry at Pavia
  • Carlo Rubbia (1934- present)
    Particle physicist and inventor; winner of the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics for aiding the discovery of W and Z particles at CERN; Professor of Physics at the University of Pavia

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