The main building of the University of Naples is on Corso Umberto, one block east of Piazza Borsa. The building was erected between 1897 and 1908 as part of the massive urban renewal of that portion of the city, which saw the construction of the main boulevard, itself.
Officially, the university is named for Frederick II of Swabia, the Holy Roman Emperor, who founded the university in the thirteenth century. It is, thus, one of the oldest such institutions in Europe. Originally, the premises of the university were at the nearby church of San Domenico Maggiore. This was at the time when Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) taught theology there. The University was moved in 1615 to the building that now houses the National Museum. It moved from there to its present location off of Corso Umberto in 1777, moving into what had been a Jesuit monastery and college. That structure was the Chiostro del Salvatore, built in the late 1500s. The main university building on Corso Umberto is simply a front for that older building behind it, which now houses the university library. [More on other ex-monasteries.]
The entire complex is vast,
stretching up the hill towards Piazza San
Domenico Maggiore; it is one modern city block
wide, as well, and includes the university library
and a number of museums
of natural science. Near the main building,
across Corso Umberto, the University has
additional space in the ex-monastery of San Pietro
Martire, originally a Dominican establishment until
closed in 1808. That two-level monastery, built in
1590, was entirely restored in 1979.
I went out to the new University campus at Monte Sant'Angelo the other day. It is exactly that: a campus on the US model, a city unto itself in an area way out in what used to be acres of greenery on the periphery of Naples in Fuorigrotta in back of the S. Paolo soccer stadium.It looks to be about half-finished and has a futuristic look about it—lots of glass and steel, with tubular passages from building to building. Thus far, the campus houses the departments of physics, chemistry, biology and computer science—you know, all the "hard stuff". The humanities are still back in the middle of town (item, above) in converted 14th-century monasteries, no doubt a more appropriate setting for studying the metaphors of Dante and Boccaccio. Eventually, however, even students of languages and literature will move out to the new site. A subway station directly beneath the campus will link to the main line into the center of town. It's an ambitious project.