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T
he Pontano Institute


The Pontano Institute is a Catholic middle and high school run by the Company of Jesus (Jesuits) in Naples. It is named for Giovanni Pontano (1426-1503) the humanist and poet active in Naples for many years. There are approximately 500 students; the curriculum is traditionally humanist and religious, but the school has both a Classical and Scientific Lyceum. The Institute is located on Corso Vittorio Emanuele at the "Cariati" section of the road, which has taken that name from the original name of the building where the institute is now housed, the villa Cariati. The building was first a 15th-century farm house, then transformed into a private residence in the 1700s by Giovanbattista Spinelli, Prince of Cariati. It was acquired by the Jesuits in 1921 to be the new premises of the Pontano Institute.

The institute, itself, came into existence in 1876 and before the definitive move to Cariati had been housed at four or five other sites in the city and had even borne other names. The foundation of the institute is interesting when viewed within the context of the entire relationship between the Jesuits and the Kingdom of Naples and then with the successor state (after 1861), the new Kingdom of Italy. By the 1870s, the Jesuits had a long history of getting themselves expelled from various places in Europe, including Naples: from Portugal in 1760, France in 1762, Spain in 1767, and Naples in 1777. Then, of course, Napoleon closed all religious orders. The Jesuits came back into Naples after the Crowned Heads of Europe were restored (1815); however, in the tumultuous year of 1848, they were expelled from Naples again. When Garibaldi took over Naples in 1861, he confiscated whatever the order had left. Yet, the Jesuits hung in there and worked in Naples in order to get at least some property back in the face of the extreme anti-clerical stance of the new Italian government. The result was (1) the San Luigi Papal Theological Seminary of Southern Italy, and (2) the Pontanto Institute.
 

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