University of Catania

University of Catania
Università degli Studi di Catania
Latin: Siciliae Studium Generale or "Siculorum Gymnasium"
Type State-supported
Established 1434
Rector Prof. Francesco Basile
Administrative staff
Students 66,235
Location Catania, Italy
Sports teams CUS Catania
Affiliations UNIMED

The University of Catania (Italian: Università degli Studi di Catania) is a university located in Catania, Sicily. Founded in 1434, it is the oldest university in Sicily, the 13th oldest in Italy, and the 29th oldest university in the world. With a population of over 60,000 students, it is the main university in Sicily.



Following the Italian higher education reform introduced by the law 240/10 and adopted by the University of Catania in its new Statute, faculties have been deactivated and departments have been reorganized. The University of Catania has now 23 Departments[1] that, additionally to the traditional assignments of scientific research, are in charge of the organization and management of educational activities.

DepartmentShort nameDirectorField
Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentDi3AProf. Salvatore CosentinoAgriculture
Economics and BusinessDEIProf. Michela CavallaroEconomics
LawProf. Roberto PennisiLaw
Civil Engineering and ArchitectureDICARProf. Paola La GrecaEngineering
Electric, Electronic and Computer EngineeringDIEEIProf. Vincenzo Catania
Industrial EngineeringDIIProf. Francesco Patania
Mathematics and Computer ScienceDMIProf. Giovanni GalloMathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences
Physics and AstronomyDFAProf. Antonio Insolia
Chemical SciencesDSCProf. Gaetano Tomaselli
Biological, Geological and Environmental SciencesBIOGEOProf. Pietro Pavone
HumanitiesDISUMProf. Giancarlo Magnano San LioForeign Languages, Letters and Philosophy
Anatomy, Biology and Genetics, Legal Medicine, Neuroscience, Diagnostic Pathology, Hygiene and Public HealthDANAProf. Mario ZappiaMedicine and Surgery
SurgeryCHIRProf. Giuseppe Sessa
Clinical and Molecular BiomedicineMEDBIOProf. Sebastiano Squatrito
Medical and Pediatric SciencesProf. Carmelo Erio Fiore
Biomedical SciencesDSBProf. Gianna Tempera
Medical Surgery SpecialitySMCProf. Agostino Serra
Surgical Sciences OrgansTransplantation and Advanced TechnologiesTRAPProf. Vincenzo Cavallaro
Political and Social SciencesDSPSProf. Giuseppe BaronePolitical Science
Drug SciencesDSFProf. Giovanna Maria ScotoPharmacy
Educational SciencesDISFORProf. Dario PalermoEducation


The university was founded by King Alfonso V of Aragon (who was also King Alfonso I of Sicily) on 19 October 1434. A charter was granted after two royal councillors (Adamo Asmundo and Battista Platamone) convinced the king to accept the founding of a "Studium Generale" in Catania, with the papal recognition arriving ten years later from Pope Eugene IV (18 April 1444). Alfonso V with this gesture wanted to compensate the city (in which there had been recently established the Royal Court) for moving the Sicilian capital from Catania to Palermo. The activity of the Atheneum actually started a year later, in 1445, with 6 professors and 10 students. The first four faculties were Medicine, Philosophy, Canon and Civil Law and Theology. Lessons were initially held in a building in Piazza del Duomo, next to the Cathedral of St. Agatha, and eventually moved to the Palazzo dell'Università in the late 1690s. This building remains the seat of the university to this day. The first degree was awarded to Antonio Mantello, from Syracuse, in 1449. During the course of the 16th century, approximately 20-25 degrees were awarded each year. The University (which from the 16th century was referred to as "Siculorum Gymnasium") was named "Studium Generale" because it was the only entity that could release degrees equal to those released in the old Studia of Salamanca, Valladolid, Bologna and this contributed to spread envy in the other Sicilian cities that in culture and traditions didn't feel inferior to Catania. In 1934, the university celebrated its 500th anniversary with King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy, and, in 1984 the 550th one.

In the early centuries of its existence, the university was administered by the comune (municipality) of Catania, overseen by the bishop of Catania and protected by the royal power. But with a reform operated by the viceroy in 1679 the authority of the bishop (who was "Gran Cancelliere" = "Great Chancellor") prevailed: he had the control over the lecturers, the freshmen and students' curriculum. This led to various conflicts between the civil and religious authorities. From 1818 the office of Gran Cancelliere was assigned to the President of the Great Civil Court, instead of the bishop.

List of university scholars historic and famous


  • Giuseppe De Felice Giuffrida, important Italian politician and journalist, was elected the first Socialist mayor of Catania in 1902.
  • Mario Rapisardi, noted Italian poet and translator, taught at the University in the 1870s. "Love truth more than glory, more than peace, more than life. Make it your sword and your shield."
  • Luigi Capuana, important writer, journalist, literary critic and theorist. He taught literature in the early years of the 20th Century.
  • Giovanni Verga, famed Italian realist writer, author of the Cavalleria Rusticana and I Malavoglia.
  • Santo Mazzarino, leading 20th-century historian of ancient Rome and Greece.
  • Vitaliano Brancati, Italian novelist and screenwriter, winner of the 1950 Bagutta Prize.
  • Elémire Zolla, Italian essayist, philosopher and historian of religion, taught linguistics in the late 1960s.


  • Mario Pieri, mathematician, taught descriptive, projective and higher geometry from 1900 to 1908 and supervised 6 doctoral students with dissertations in algebraic geometry. See The Legacy of Mario Pieri in Geometry and Arithmetic, Birkhäuser (E.A. Marchisotto & J.T. Smith (2007) .
  • Agatino San Martino Pardo, astronomer and mathematician, taught mathematical analysis and calculus at the university from 1816 to 1841. He contributed to the calculation of the orbit of Ceres, the first asteroid discovered.
  • Giuseppe Mercalli, inventor of the Mercalli Scale of earthquake intensity, was professor of geology in the late 1880s.
  • Annibale Ricco, named Chair of Astrophysics in 1890, was the first director of the Catania Observatory. He was also Chancellor of the University from 1898 to 1900. The crater Ricco on the Moon as well as the asteroid 18462 Ricco are named for him.
  • Guido Fubini, author of Fubini's theorem, was a professor of mathematics in the early years of the 20th Century. The asteroid, 22495 Fubini, is named in his honor.
  • Remo Ruffini, former assistant professor at Princeton University (1971–74), was professor of theoretical physics from 1976 to 1978. He was named Space Scientist of the Year in 1992.
  • Paolo Maffei, director of the Catania Observatory from 1975 to 1980, was one of the pioneers of infrared astronomy. He discovered 2 galaxies, Maffei 1 and Maffei 2 in 1967. A main belt asteroid, 18426 Maffei, is also named for him.
  • Giuseppe Colombo, physicist and astronomer, NASA consultant and early proponent of tethered satellites. Asteroid 10387 Bepicolombo is named in his honor, as is the Colombo Gap, a 150 km gap in the C ring of the planet Saturn.
  • Napoleone Ferrara, molecular biologist, winner of the 2010 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award, is a 1981 graduate of the Faculty of Medicine.
  • Sabina Berretta, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and scientific director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, is a graduate of the Faculty of Medicine.

Points of interest

See also


  1. "Scuole di specializzazione - University of Catania". Retrieved 17 April 2018.

Coordinates: 37°30′13″N 15°05′12″E / 37.50361°N 15.08667°E / 37.50361; 15.08667

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