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How to reach Pavia









The city of Pavia is located in Lombardy, a Northern Region of Italy. Although dating back to pre-Roman times, Pavia achieved distinction as the capital of the Longobards Rule from 578 to 754. Testimony to this important past can be found in its many grand Romanesque and Renaissance buildings and monuments. Today it is a quiet university town with a population of approximately 90,000 residents which serves as the centre of a fertile and eminently agricultural province. The university's buildings and colleges are all within easy reach of each other.

The Ticino River and its regional park provide plenty of opportunities for recreation. Pavia combines the tranquillity of a provincial capital and residential centre with good access to nearby cities, the sea, and the mountains (Milan is only 30 kms away - or 25 minutes by train - Genoa is 100 kms away, and the Alps are about 70 kms away). It is an excellent "jumping off" point for everyone wishing to visit Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, or southern or central Italy.

History of Pavia and its University

The town of Pavia is located in the north of Italy near the confluence of the river Ticino with the river Po. Certainly a pre-Roman centre, during the Roman Imperial age it was a municipality and an important military place. Subsequently it became a fortified citadel and the last bulwark of the Goths and the Byzantines. After the Longobard conquest, Pavia became the capital of their kingdom and later of the "Regnum Italicum" until the 12th century.

After the 10th century, Pavia was an important and active town. Conquered afterwards by the town of Milan and the Visconti family, it became an intellectual and artistic centre, being the seat of the University which attracted students from many countries. After the Franco-Spanish war and the battle of Pavia (1525), when the French were defeated and their king, Francis I, was taken a prisoner by the Spanish army, the town was under Spanish occupation until 1713. It was then ruled by the Austrian until 1796, then occupied by the French army under Napoleon. In 1815 it passed again under the Austrian administration until the 2nd independence war in 1859, and the unification of Italy one year later. The University of Pavia is one of the oldest in the world. An edict issued by Emperor Lotarius quotes a high education institution in Pavia as already established in 825. 

This institution, mainly devoted to ecclesiastical and civil law, as well as to divinity study, was then elected as the prime education centre for northern Italian clerics. Enlarged and renewed by compulsion of the duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Visconti, it became the University of the duchy, having been established as a Studiorum Generale by Emperor Charles IV in 1361. During the following centuries the fame of the University of Pavia grew up not only in Italy; it passed through periods of adversity and prosperity, the latter in particular during the age of the Austrian empress Maria Theresa, as well as in recent times due to the vigorous action of some Rectors.

The continuous presence of learned men and scientists who wrote celebrated works and carried out important discoveries together with a distinguished educational activity, added lustre to the University name. An appreciable contribution to maintaining and increasing its role and importance is also given by the numerous private and public student residences, established since the 15th century. The oldest ones still active nowadays, the colleges Borromeo and Ghislieri, were founded by St.Charles Borromeo and by its friend the Pope St.Pius V Ghislieri, in 1561 and 1567, respectively. The most recent ones were created on public as well as private initiative during the seventies.

The University

The University of Pavia is one of the oldest in the world. An edict issued by King Lotarius quotes a higher education Institution at Pavia as already established in 825. This institution, mainly devoted to ecclesiastical and civil law as well as to divinity studies, was then elected as the prime educational centre for Northern Italy. Enlarged and renewed by Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Duke of Milan, it became the University of the Duchy, having been officially established as a General Studium by Emperor Charles IV in 1361. During the following centuries the fame of the University of Pavia grew and not only in Italy. It passes through periods of adversity and prosperity, the latter in particular during the age of Maria Theresa, Austrian Empress (18th century), as well as in more recent times due to the vigorous action of several Rectors. The University of Pavia is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Its origin dates back to 825 A.D. It became the official university of the Duchy of Milan, obtaining "Studium Generale" status from the Emperor Charles IV in 1361. Some of its alumni include Alexander Volta and Christopher Columbus. Today it enjoys a reputation for academic excellence. It has 10 faculties and schools of medicine and law. A wide variety of teaching and research is offered by 31 departments and 70 institutes, clinics, research centres, and laboratories. In the 1996-97 academic year, there were almost 30,000 students, 11,200 members of the academic staff (full professors, associate professors, and researchers), and about 1,000 technical and administrative employees. 

The University of Pavia is a participating institution in the Socrates/Erasmus European Exchange Program, but has few American partner institutions for exchange.

The Museum for the History of the University of Pavia and the Birth of Histology

A brief overview is provided on the development of histology as an independent discipline at the University of Pavia, through documents and preparations preserved in the Museum for the History of the University. Studies on the organization of tissues and cells started blooming in the mid-1850s, when morphological observations were supported by significant technical advancements in microscopy and tissue preparation. The role of Albert Koelliker, the great father of European Histology in the second half of 19th century, is also discussed. Koelliker had several contacts with Camillo Golgi and promoted the diffusion of Golgi's discoveries. The authors also underline the innovative role of Camillo Golgi in the histological approach to research and in the foundation of modern histology.

Municipal Museums of the Visconti Castle

Located in the Visconti Castle, the Municipal Museums include the Museum of Archaeology with the remains of the Clastidium's necropolis (terracottas, bronzes, ceramics from the territory), the Early Middle Ages hall, with tomb seals, sculptures, and reliefs, the Pavia Romanesque halls displaying the architectural remains of the double Romanesque cathedral of S. Stefano and S. Maria del Popolo, and the Renaissance hall with stone sculptures by G.A. Amadeo and the Mantegazzas. The Malaspina Gallery presents a collection of 12th to 17th-century paintings (G. Bellini, Antonello da Messina, Foppa, Correggio, the latter author of a remarkable Holy Family). There follows a collection of paintings dating from early 17th-century to late Baroque including works by Daniele Crespi, C. Procaccini, Spadaro, and Gian Domenico Tiepolo. On display also 10th-century paintings (Appiani, hayez, faruffini, and other local artists). The route continues with the room of the Renaissance model of the Cathedral presenting a scale plan of the Cathedral of Pavia designed by Bramante, Cristoforo Rocchi, and Giovanni Amadeo and carved by Rocchi and Fugazza between 1493 and 1502. There is also a modern sculpture section and a plaster cast collection (Spertini, Rosso, Del Bo, and F. Tallone).

Museum of the Risorgimento

Set in the ViscontiCastle, the museum illustrates the different stages of the Risorgimento's war in Pavia. It is divided into three rooms; the first one houses a chronological reconstruction, from the Habsburg's rule in Pavia to the Second Independence War; the second room is entirely devoted to the Cairolis; the third room displays several evidences on the Italian-Piedmontese, French, Austrian armies, on Garibaldi's Thousand and their expedition, on the late 19th-century Freemasonry, on the last Risorgimento's events and also gives a few references on World War I. The exhibition route ends with a section focusing on distinguished personages from Pavia such as politician Benedetto Cairoli, and Gaetano Sacchi and Emilio Burzio, two generals of the Piedmontese army.