Sapienza University of Rome
Sapienza – Università di Roma (Italian)
Latin: Studium Urbis
MottoIl futuro è passato qui
Motto in English
The future has passed here/the future is past here
Established1303; 721 years ago (1303)
RectorAntonella Polimeni
Administrative staff
CampusUrban, Urban
Colors    Pompeian red & gold[5][6]
Sporting affiliations
CUS Roma

The Sapienza University of Rome (Italian: Sapienza – Università di Roma), formally the Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza", abbreviated simply as Sapienza ("wisdom"), is a public research university located in Rome, Italy.[7] It was founded in 1303 and is as such one of the world's oldest universities,[8] and with 122.000 students, it is the largest university in Europe.[9] Due to its size, funding, and numerous laboratories and libraries, Sapienza is a major education and research centre in Southern Europe.[10] The University is located mainly in the Città Universitaria (University city), which covers 44 ha (110 acres) near the Tiburtina Station, with different campuses, libraries and laboratories in various locations in Rome.

Sapienza was founded the 20th of April 1303 by decree from Pope Boniface VIII as a Studium for ecclesiastical studies under more control than the free-standing universities of Bologna and Padua. In 1431 Pope Eugene IV completely reorganized the studium and decreed that the university should expand to include the four schools of Law, Medicine, Philosophy, in addition to the existing Theology. In the 1650s the university became known as Sapienza, meaning "wisdom", a title it still retains.[11] After the establishment of the Italian Republic in 1870, La Sapienza rapidly expanded as the chosen main university of the capital of the newly founded Italy. In 1935 the new university campus, planned by Marcello Piacentini, was completed.[12]

Sapienza teaches and conducts research in all pure and applied sciences and humanities. It is often considered the best in the world for classics and ancient history.[13][14] Sapienza houses 50 libraries with over 2.7 million books, most notably the Alessandrina University Library, built in 1667 by Pope Alexander VII, housing 1.5 million volumes.[15] It in addition has 19 museums, a botanical garden, and three university hospitals.[16] Sapienzas alumni includes 10 Nobel laureates, Italian prime ministers, one pope, Presidents of the European Parliament and European Commissioners, as well as several notable religious figures, supreme court judges, and astronauts.[17]


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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)

The 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,[18] making it the first pontifical university.[12]

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, some of the professors having been killed and others dispersed.[19] Pope Paul III restored the university shortly after his election to the pontificate in 1534.

In the 1650s the university became known as Sapienza, meaning wisdom, a title it retains. In 1703, with his private funds, Pope Clement XI purchased some land on the Janiculum, where he created 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.[20]

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.

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[21] due to protests by some students and professors.[22] The title of the speech would have been 'The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness is Truth'.[23] 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.[12][21]


The new campus of Rome University, built in 1935 by Marcello Piacentini, in a 1938 picture
Entrance of "La Sapienza" University of Rome

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.[24] 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[25] (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.[citation needed]


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[26]151-200 (2020)
CWUR World[27]113 (2021-2022)
CWTS World[28]81 (2020)
QS World[29]134 (2024)
THE World[30]197 (2022)
USNWR Global[31]=114 (2021)

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.[32][33]

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.[34]

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.[35]

In 2024, Sapienza University of Rome ranked 134th in the world in QS World University Rankings.[36] The subject Classics and Ancient history of Sapienza is ranked the 1st in the world by QS World University Rankings by subject.[37] As the same ranking, the subject Archaeology ranks the 10th.[38] The subject Physics & Astronomy of Sapienza is ranked 36th,[39] Arts and Humanities is ranked 39th,[40] and Psychology is ranked 70th.[41]


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.[citation needed]



Notable people

Some of the notable alumni and professors

Picture Alumni and professors Academic degree Note Awards
Maria Montessori Natural sciences Founder of the Montessori method of education, regarded to be one of the most influential female physicians
Federico Fellini Law One of the most important filmmakers of the 20th century Academy Honorary Award, European Film 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 is also known for the Fermi–Dirac statistics and the theory of beta decay Nobel Prize in Physics (1938)[42]
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 the antiproton and the elements astatine, and technetium Nobel Prize in Physics (1959)
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)
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)
Umberto Guidoni Astrophysics European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency astronaut (ESA/ASI) and a veteran of two NASA Space Shuttle missions
Mario Draghi Economics Prime Minister of Italy (2021–2022). 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 President of the European Parliament. Former European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship
Federica Mogherini Political Science High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Rector of the College of Europe.
Sergio Mattarella Law 12th President of Italy
Vito Volterra Mathematical physics Mathematician and physicist, known for the theory of integral equations and the Lotka–Volterra equations
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 (not completed) Known for the fraudulent business scheme named after him, the Ponzi scheme
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.
Abdirashid Ali Shermarke Political Science first Prime Minister of Somalia and second 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.
Ignazio Visco Economics Governor of the Banca d'Italia (Bank of Italy)
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)
Carlo Verdone Modern literature Prominent actor, screenwriter and film director.
Paolo Gentiloni Political Science European Commissioner in the Von der Leyen Commission since September 2019 and former Italian Prime Minister from December 2016 to June 2018
Giorgio Gaja Law 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
Giuseppe Conte Politics Former Prime Minister of Italy and leader of the Five Star Movement
Giorgio Parisi Physics Winner of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Physics. Also attended Sapienza as a student. Nobel Prize in Physics (2021), Dirac Medal (1999), and others.
Chrysoula Zacharopoulou Gynecology Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships in the government of the French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne since 20 May 2022.

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. ^ "Anagrafe Nazionale Studenti".
  2. ^ ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "Sapienza University of Rome – Identity Guidelines". Archived from the original on 25 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Sapienza University of Rome - Graphic manual" (PDF). June 2007. Retrieved 7 August 2020.
  7. ^ Official Sapienza University of Rome name and logos writing guidelines Archived 17 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "La Storia".
  9. ^ "Chi Siamo".
  10. ^ "Chi siamo – Sapienza – Università di Roma".
  11. ^ "ANNA FOA, Ateismo e magia. Il declino della concezione magica nel Dictionnaire di Pierre Bayle, Roma, Edizioni dell'Ateneo, 1980. Istituto di Storia Moderna, Facolt di Lettere e Filosofia, Universit di Roma". Annali dell'Istituto e Museo di storia della scienza di Firenze. 6 (2): 161–162. 1981. doi:10.1163/221058781x00538. ISSN 0391-3341.
  12. ^ a b c "University of Rome | Ancient, Papal, Catholic | Britannica". Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  13. ^ Rome, Wanted in (4 March 2021). "Rome's La Sapienza rated top university in the world for Classics". Wanted in Rome. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  14. ^ Will Martin. "QS ranking of global universities by excellence in subjects - Business Insider". Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Direzione generale Biblioteche e diritto d'autore Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina". Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  16. ^ "Sapienza" (PDF). UniRoma. 2014. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Università «La Sapienza»:sfide, titoli e speranze". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). 13 September 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2024.
  18. ^ History
  19. ^ "Brief Summary of the Faculty's History". Pharmacy and Medicine. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  20. ^ Di Simone, Maria Rosa (1980). La sapienza romana nel Settecento (in Italian). Roma: Edizioni dell'Ateneo.
  21. ^ a b BBC News | World | Europe | Papal visit scuppered by scholars 15 January 2008
  22. ^ "The letter of the scientists to the rector of the University" (in Italian). Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  23. ^ Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza Archived 8 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine 18 January 2008
  24. ^ "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.
  25. ^ "Home – Biblioteca Universitaria Alessandrina".
  26. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities – 2020". Shanghai Jiaotong University. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  27. ^ "CWUR World University Rankings - 2021-2022". CWUR. 10 July 2021. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  28. ^ "CWTS Leiden Ranking – 2020". Leiden University. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  29. ^ "QS World University Rankings". Top Universities. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  30. ^ "World University Rankings 2022". Times Higher Education. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  31. ^ "USNWR World Rankings - 2021". U.S. News & World Report. 19 October 2020. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  32. ^ "Sapienza among Top World Universities – Sapienza – Università di Roma".
  33. ^ "Academic Ranking of World Universities – 2016".
  34. ^ "The 2015 edition of the ranking has been released". Center for World University Rankings. 2015. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  35. ^ "Sapienza Amongst the Top-100 Universities Worldwide for Graduate Employment | Sapienza Università di Roma". Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  36. ^ "World University Ranking". Sapienza University of Rome
  37. ^ "Classics & Ancient History". Sapienza University of Rome
  38. ^ "Archaeology". Sapienza University of Rome
  39. ^ "Physics & Astronomy". Sapienza University of Rome
  40. ^ "Arts and Humanities". Sapienza University of Rome
  41. ^ "Psychology". Sapienza University of Rome
  42. ^ "Enrico Fermi – Biographical". Nobel Foundation.
  43. ^ Letteratura: è morto Bruno Luiselli, il latinista che studiava i Barbari (in Italian)
  44. ^ "In ricordo di Salvatore Dierna". Retrieved 20 September 2022.

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