Monday, February 4, 2013

Palazzo Bo

Today we took a tour of Palazzo Bo, which is one of the academic buildings of the university. However, it contains some really cool stuff. Galileo taught there back when he was a professor of mathematics at the University and the Palazzo contains what is suspected to be Galileo's lectern from which he taught. No one was ever quite sure if it was really his lectern, but they have it roped off and on display because no one ever wanted to throw it out in case it really was his. The Palazzo also contains the first anatomical theater where students would watch as their professor dissected human corpses. The tour guide mentioned that one person had the job of finding corpses to dissect, and often professors would give their bodies to science after they died. I could only imagine having a professor for class and then dissecting his body some time later! And to save the best for last: a statue of Elena something something cause she has four names, but she was the first woman graduate in the entire world! From the University of Padova, I'm so proud. Her degree was in philosophy.
I think the history of the University is really interesting because it was founded when a group of students from Bologna decided they wanted a better education so they broke away and founded their own university and devised a way to pay their professors to teach them. I also learned today from my Italian friend Linda that all students in Italy are able to go to university because if your family earns less than a certain amount per year, you are able to attend for free. It's an interesting contrast to the so-called American Dream, where if you work really hard you can do anything even though higher education is ridiculously expensive. So good job on that one, Italia.

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