The University of Padua is among the earliest universities of the world and the second oldest in Italy. The University of Padua is one of Italy’s leading universities and my second home for five amazing years.
Below: Padua (Padova) – aerial view of the town
Padua is the town that saw me growing up and getting a bit wiser. I started this journey when I was 19 years old because of the firm belief that Psychology was my real passion. My dad wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer, my mum instead tried to convince me that studying to work as an engineer was best for me. I remember one day I just stood up and said “I will study Psychology because it is what my heart is leading towards”. And that was it. From that day on a beautiful path of self discovery, knowledge and hard studying days was about to begin. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life! I met incredible people (including my husband!), I learned, laughed, experienced and lived so intensely…I believe I will never forget that time of my life, those years shaped the person that I’ve become and the choices that I make every day. Following my instinct and passion has always been rewarding for me…so far! Below a picture that arouses many memories.
Below: Padua – Porta Portello and the Piovego canal near the faculty of Psychology
The University of Padua is conventionally said to have been founded in 1222 when a large group of students and professors left the University of Bologna in search of more academic freedom (‘Libertas scholastica’). The first subjects to be taught were law and theology. From the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the university was renowned for its research, particularly in the areas of medicine, astronomy, philosophy and law. During this time, the university adopted the Latin motto: Universa universis patavina libertas (Paduan Freedom is Universal for Everyone).
Below: Padua – Palazzo del Bò ancient courtyard
An inn with the sign of the ‘Bo’ – the Ox – had already been mentioned in a document of 1364 under the name of Hospitium Bovis with the sign of a ox’s skull. But the original core of the Bo is much older, as there were buildings on the site as early as the 13th century; according to scholars, parts of these buildings still exist within the Palazzo.
Strangely, the link between Bo and University may also have its origin in cattle trading: it seems that in 1405 Francesco, heir of the da Carrara family, lords of Padova, donated the building to a butcher who had assured him of regular supplies of meat. In 1539 The property of the Ox Inn shifted to the University that gained its full ownership. But the name of Palazzo del Bo (Ox Building) has been kept because the University wanted to keep the ox’s skull in its emblem.
From 1592 to 1688 according to tradition, every student or professor at the end of his mandate would leave his family’s emblem as a memory to the University. Today the walls of the loggia in the Ancient Courtyard are still decorated with almost three thousands emblems either painted or carved.
Below: Palazzo del Bò emblems on the ceiling
The best-known room in the Palazzo Bo is the Aula Magna, the Great Hall. The ‘sala magna’ of the Hospitium Bovis, it was a large dining-room: after the University took over the building, it became the Scuola Grande dei Legisti. As a rule Galileo Galilei was allowed to teach in it.
In modern times, the new wing built after 1910 to house the Faculty of Jurisprudence was the work of Architect Ettore Fagiuoli created the New Courtyard.
At the bottom of the big staircase leading upstairs you can find the statue of Elena Lucrezia Cornaro, the first woman in history to be awarded a degree on 25 June 1678.
Nowadays the Palazzo del Bò is the location of the Chancellorship, of the Law School and rooms for institutional representations. Official ceremonies like graduations in Law School, Medicine, Arts or Science, take place in some of these rooms. Palazzo del Bò is where I had my graduation day discussing my thesis on “Innovative methods of communication: Woody Allen’s movies as starting point in learning pragmatics of communication”. After that discuss we took a lot of pictures in the courtyard of the Palazzo and then ran outside to party things up a little bit!
Below: Palazzo del Bò Aula Magna
The many buildings of the University of Padua and the Palazzo del Bò are still a must-visit in my journeys back to my Country. When I feel nostalgic and I am lucky enough to be in Italy for the holidays I catch a train and travel from Abruzzo to Veneto region, where Padua is. And there I can immerge myself in memories (not always easy to copy with), places, secret glimpses of the beautiful historical centre…every corner hides and cherishes an event of my life and brings me back in time. A time were things were different. Do you know that feeling when reading a book that you’re loving and you just can’t stop?? You anticipate in your mind the future and at the same time you cherish and secretly love the past that brought you here. When I am in Padua I feel like I am turning back a few pages, as I was reading again that well-known chapter; because everyone loves an old favorite, a comforting, familiar and predictable scenario.
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