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© Jeff Matthews   Jan 2011

Frederick II University

These three items appeared separately in the original version of the Around Naples Encyclopedia on the dates indicated and have been consolidated here onto a singe page.

entry June 2003
1. university 

main building university 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.


entry Nov. 2002
2. university 

Univ. at MontesantangeloI 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.


Nov. 2007
3. The 2nd University of NaplesI've got it figured out. I mistakenly referred to "la seconda università di Federico II", which would be spoken as "the second university of Frederick the second"—confusing in any language. A woman kindly corrected me. Here's the deal: due to overcrowding at the medical school, the original "Federico II university" (top item) spun off a second university, now called, simply, "la seconda università di Napoli" (the second university of Naples). It has run classes since November of 1992. As far as the medical departments go, the massive university clinic up on the Vomero hill, which opened in 1973, is officially the Frederick II Polyclinic hospital; that is, it is run by the original (i.e. first) University of Naples. Everyone still calls it "the new polyclinic."  The old polyclinic hospital, located at the west end of the historic center of Naples and the result of construction at the beginning of the 20th century, is run by the new (i.e. second) university of Naples. Got that? Good. I don't.



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