Sapienza University of Rome

The Sapienza University of Rome (Italian: Sapienza – Università di Roma), also called simply Sapienza[3][lower-alpha 1] or the University of Rome, is a collegiate research university that is located in Rome, Italy. Formally known as Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza", it is one of the largest European universities by enrollments[4] and one of the oldest in history, founded in 1303. The University is one of the most prestigious Italian universities and in the world, commonly ranking first in national rankings and in Southern Europe.[5] In 2018 it ranked 1st in the world for Classics and Ancient history.[6]

Sapienza University of Rome
Sapienza – Università di Roma  (Italian)
Latin: Studium Urbis
MottoIl futuro è passato qui
Motto in English
The Future Was Here
RectorDr. Eugenio Gaudio
Administrative staff
AthleticsCUS Roma
AffiliationsEuropean 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.

Most of the Italian ruling class studied at Sapienza.[7] Sapienza educated numerous notable alumni, including many Nobel laureates, Presidents of the European Parliament and European Commissioners, heads of several nations, notable religious figures, scientists and astronauts.[8] In September 2018, it was included in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings Graduate Employability Ranking.[9]


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,[10] making it the first pontifical university.

In 1431 Pope Eugene IV completely reorganized the studium with the bull In supremae, in which he granted masters and students alike the broadest possible privileges and decreed that the university should include the four schools of Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. He introduced a new tax on wine to raise funds for the university; the money was used to buy a palace which later housed the 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, and 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. The first complete history of the Sapienza University was written in 1803–1806 by Filippo Maria Renazzi.[11]

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.


Sapienza University has many campuses in Rome, but its main campus is the Città Universitaria (University city), which covers 44 ha (110 acres) near the Roma Tiburtina Station. The university has satellite campuses outside Rome, the main one 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.[12] To cope with the ever-increasing number of applicants, the Rector 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[13] (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 and Fondo Festa.

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.


University rankings
ARWU[14] 151–200
QS[15] 203
Times[16] 251-300
U.S. News & World Report[17] 119

As of the 2016 Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), Sapienza is positioned within the 151–200 group of universities and among the top 3% of universities in the world.[18][19]

In 2018, the subject Classics and Ancient history of Sapienza is ranked the 1st in the world by QS World University Rankings by subject.[20] As the same ranking, the subject Archaeology ranks the 9th.[21]

In 2016, the Center for World University Rankings ranked the Sapienza University of Rome as the 90th in the world and the top in Italy in its World University Rankings.[22]

According to the QS Graduate Employability Ranking 2020, Sapienza places first amongst Italian universities for the indicator on Alumni Outcomes thanks to the number of university graduates employed in large companies and in managerial positions.[23]


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 mean 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 15 January 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[24] due to protests by some students and professors.[25] The title of the speech would have been 'The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness is Truth'.[26] 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.[24]

Notable people

Some of the notable alumni and professors

PictureAlumni and professorsAcademic degreeNoteAwards
Maria MontessoriNatural sciencesFounder of the Montessori method of education, regarded to be one of the most influential female physicians
Federico FelliniLawOne of the most important filmmakers of the 20th centuryAcademy Honorary Award, European Film Awards
Evangelista TorricelliPhysicsInventor of the barometer. He made significant contributions in optics and on the method of indivisibles.
Enrico FermiPhysicsPhysicist, 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 is also known for the Fermi–Dirac statistics and the theory of beta decayNobel Prize in Physics (1938)[27]
Emilio Gino SegrèPhysicsPhysicist, colleague and close friend of Ettore Majorana. A key figure in the creation of the atomic bomb, he helped discover the antiproton and the elements astatine, and technetiumNobel Prize in Physics (1959)
Daniel BovetPsychobiologyNobel 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 medicationNobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1957)
Pietro BelluschiCivil EngineeringLeader 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 GiorgiMathematicsMathematician, 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)
Umberto GuidoniAstrophysicsEuropean Space Agency and Italian Space Agency astronaut (ESA/ASI) and a veteran of two NASA space shuttle mission
Mario DraghiEconomicsPresident 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 BalanzinoLawDeputy Secretary General of NATO. Two times NATO General Secretary
Antonio TajaniLawPresident of the European Parliament. Former European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Federica MogheriniPolitical ScienceHigh Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Sergio MattarellaLaw12th President of Italy
Vito VolterraMathematical physicsMathematician and physicist, known for the theory of integral equations and the Lotka–Volterra equations
Gabriele d'AnnunzioLiteraturePoet, journalist, playwright, soldier, politician. He was part of the literary movement called the Decadent movement.
Bernardo BertolucciModern literatureFilm director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor, The Sheltering Sky and The Dreamers2 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 PonziBusinessKnown for the fraudulent business scheme named after him, the Ponzi scheme
Nicola CabibboPhysicsPresident of Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics and of Pontifical Academy of Sciences
Enrico GiovanniniEconomics, StatisticsItalian 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.
Abdirashid Ali ShermarkePolitical Science1st Prime Minister of Somalia and 2nd President of Somalia
Luca Cordero di MontezemoloAccounting 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.
Ignazio ViscoEconomicsGovernor of the Banca d'Italia (Bank of Italy)
Massimiliano FuksasArchitectureArchitectGrand 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)
Carlo VerdoneModern literatureProminent actor, screenwriter and film director.
Paolo GentiloniPolitical ScienceItalian Prime Minister from December 2016 to June 2018and European Commissioner in the Von der Leyen Commission since September 2019
Giorgio GajaLawElected in 2011 as a judge of the International Court of Justice
Pier Carlo PadoanEconomicsDeputy 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
Anna Morpurgo DaviesIndo-European linguisticsProfessor of Comparative Philology, Somerville College, Oxford UniversityDBE, FSA, FBA

Faculty and staff

Among the prominent scholars who have taught at the Sapienza University of Rome are architects Ernesto Basile and Bruno Zevi; chemist Emanuele Paternò; jurists Antonio Salandra, Sabino Cassese and Giuliano Amato; mathematician Vito Volterra; pharmacologist and Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine Daniel Bovet; chemist and Nobel Laureate Giulio Natta; philosophers Luigi Ferri and Augusto Del Noce; physicist and Nobel Laureate in Physics Enrico Fermi; political scientist Roberto Forges Davanzati


See also


  1. Pronounced [la saˈpjɛntsa]; Italian for "knowledge" or "wisdom".


  1. "Anagrafe Nazionale Studenti".
  2. "Sapienza University of Rome – Identity Guidelines". Archived from the original on 25 August 2012.
  3. Official Sapienza University of Rome name and logos writing guidelines Archived 17 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  4. "Chi siamo – Sapienza – Università di Roma".
  5. "Sapienza University of Rome Ranking | CWUR 2017". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  6. Will Martin. "QS ranking of global universities by excellence in subjects - Business Insider". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  7. Gianna Fregonara. "Università "La Sapienza":sfide, titoli e speranze -". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  8. "Sapienza" (PDF). UniRoma. 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  9. "QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2019". Top Universities. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  10. History
  11. Di Simone, Maria Rosa (1980). La sapienza romana nel Settecento (in Italian). Roma: Edizioni dell'Ateneo.
  12. "Pietralata, i lavori del campus inizieranno a fine 2012". (in Italian). Nuovo Paese Sera srl. 27 July 2011. Archived from the original on 1 November 2013. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
  13. "Home – Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina".
  14. "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  15. "QS World University Rankings® 2020". Quacquarelli Symonds Limited. 2019. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  16. "World University Rankings 2020". THE Education Ltd. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
  17. "Best Global Universities Rankings: 2020". U.S. News & World Report LP. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  18. "Sapienza among Top World Universities – Sapienza – Università di Roma".
  19. "Academic Ranking of World Universities – 2016".
  20. "Classics & Ancient History". Sapienza University of Rome
  21. "Archaeology". Sapienza University of Rome
  22. "The 2015 edition of the ranking has been released". Center for World University Rankings. 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  23. "Sapienza Amongst the Top-100 Universities Worldwide for Graduate Employment | Sapienza Università di Roma". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  24. BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Papal visit scuppered by scholars 15 January 2008
  25. "The letter of the scientists to the rector of the University" (in Italian). Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  26. Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza Archived 8 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine 18 January 2008
  27. "Enrico Fermi – Biographical". Nobel Foundation.

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