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Pisa and cultural excellence

The Age of Enlightenment had ended with the American and French Revolutions, the disruptive outcomes of the complex transformations that were sweeping society: into this changing scenario came the First Empire of Napoleon, who for ten years gathered a large part of the European continent under the mantle of common political, administrative and economic structures.

The Napoleonic decree of October 18, 1810, relating to "establishment of public education" in Tuscany, province of the French Empire from 1807, provides for establishment in Pisa of an "academic hostel" for college students. Twenty-five places in the hostel were available on a competitive basis for students of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, to create a branch of Paris’ École Normale Supérieure.

This is how, by order of Napoleon, the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa was established. The term "normal" refers to its primary mission of teaching, of training high school teachers to transmit the "rules" that educate citizens to obey the laws and the Emperor.

The first school was based at the convent of San Silvestro, halfway between a military order and a convent, where student life was marked by strict disciplinary rules.

The proposed itinerary traces the places where the Napoleonic period left its mark on the city.