You are here


The foundation - The Napoleonic Period

The Scuola Normale of Pisa was formally founded on the 18th of October, 1810, by a Napoleonic decree which dealt with “places of public instruction” in Tuscany, a province of the French empire since 1807. The three regions of the Arno, Ombrone and Mediterraneo formed one of the Academies of the Imperial University housed in Pisa, and together opened an “academic residence” for university students.

The Grand Duchy period

Ferdinand III's reclaiming of the throne of Tuscany in 1814 coincides with the closure of the Scuola Normale, although various attempts were made to save it and its mission despite its Napoleonic foundation.

The period following Italian unification

Newly unified Italy extended the legislative system and administration of the Kingdom of Savoy to the entire nation, including the field of education. For more than sixty years Italian schools were regulated by the 1859 Casati Law, which was originally written for the Piedmont and Lombard areas. This centralized model allowed private instruction, but reserved the “right of the State to carry out university instruction” and to “oversee” all aspects of schools at every level.

The Fascist Era

The tradition of the Scuola Normale did not change in any significant way until the twentieth century, when, with the new Regulations of 1927, its diploma ceased to be an automatic qualification to teach in secondary schools. The Scuola Normale maintained its mandate to “prepare students to teach in secondary schools and for the exams which qualify them to do so” and to promote graduate studies. Graduate studies thus became independent and open to all university graduates of Italy.

La riforma gentiliana

The war and the postwar period

The Scuola Normale continued operating despite the Second World War (1940-45), albeit with some limitations and practical difficulties.

In 1940 it participated in the Universal Exposition in Rome for advanced studies and high culture, but dissent towards the regime became more and more manifest among students and professors.

After Mussolini's removal by the Grand Council on the 25th of July 1943, the Scuola Normale remained under German control since it was in the territory of the Republic of Salò.

Dopo guerra

The Scuola Normale nowadays

With the long directorship of Gilberto Bernardini, which started in 1964, the Scuola Normale assumed its present framework, defined by the law of March 7 1967 as a Scuola Normale Superiore of university and doctorate studies, at first as dependent on the University of Pisa but very soon afterwards as an autonomous entity.