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The Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa

Pisa, Palazzo della Carovana and Piazza dei Cavalieri
Pisa, Palazzo della Carovana and Piazza dei Cavalieri

On 18 October 1810, a Napoleonic decree reformed the University of Pisa and established the institution of a “Pensionato accademico” for university students in the faculty of Letters and Sciences, thereby instituting the Pisan branch of the Eacute;cole Normale Supérieure of Paris, called the Scuola Normale Superiore. The idea was to create an institute for the training of a corps of prepared and conscientious secondary school teachers, trained to educated citizens obedient to the Emperor’s laws. The School was reserved for the best students selected at the end of their secondary school studies. These, after a qualified internship and the attainment of their university degree, committed to teach in the secondary schools for at least ten years. The activity did not begin immediately, however: it was necessary to wait until 1813 since the first students, set up in the old monastery of San Silvestro, needed to follow rigorous disciplinary regulations and very soon after, in 1814, Napoleon abdicated and the Grand Duke Ferdinand III returned to the Tuscan throne, thereby sanctioning the closure of the School.
In 1817, a Grand Ducal decree established the ancient Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen in Pisa, suppressed by Napoleon himself on 9 April 1809, and in 1843 the Order Council proposed the institution of a “boarding school for young nobles” at its historical seat, the Palazzo della Carovana, with a Scuola Normale annex.
The Palazzo della Carovana was built by Cosimo I in 1562, awarding the project for the restoration of the entire Piazza and the old pre–existing building, the Palazzo degli Anziani, to Giorgio Vasari. The neo–knights stayed in the Palazzo della Carovana for three years, receiving an education in the sciences and military arts. The building therefore had already served the function of a boarding school and place of study, then picked back up and strengthened with the establishment in 1864 of the Scuola Normale Superiore.

Palazzo della Carovana
Piazza dei Cavalieri