• About SNS

    The Scuola Normale Superiore is a public institute for higher education that in its two centuries of life has earned itself a special place, both in Italy and abroad, a place characterised by merit, talent and scientific rigour. Two types of course are available: the undergraduate course and the PhD course.The teaching activity is distributed among four academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of Sciences, placed in Pisa; the Department of political and social sciences and the Ciampi Institute, located in Florence.  

  • Admission

    The evaluation for entrance to the first year of the undergraduate course does not include the high school leaving certificate, and the bachelor's degree is not taken into consideration in the entrance examination for the fourth year course. For each PhD course, candidates’ level of competence, talent, motivations and aptitudes to scientific research will be assessed on the basis of their qualifications and research project and an interview.

  • Academics

    The Scuola Normale Superiore offers two types of course: the undergraduate course, leading to first and second level university degrees, and the PhD course, the international equivalent of the Italian Dottorato di ricerca.The teaching and research activity is distributed among three academic structures: the Faculty of Humanities, the Faculty of  Sciences, and the Department of Political and Social Sciences.The first two academic structures, housed at the Pisa site, organize courses for both the  undergraduate course and the PhD course. The Department of Political and Social Sciences, situated in Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, deals only with the PhD course.

  • Research

    A highly qualifying feature of the Normale way is the strong link between teaching and research that is a characteristic of both the undergraduate and the graduate programmes of the Scuola. The research structures of the two Faculties welcome students with a relevant study interest, enabling them to collaborate in a mature way with the activities of the researchers.

  • International

    The Scuola Normale is an institute of a decidedly international nature. Examinations for admission to the undergraduate degree course and for the PhD course are open to all citizens worldwide. A certain number of places on the PhD course are reserved for students from other countries. During the pre laurea and  post lauream teaching courses, study and research programmes are made available at overseas universities and research centres with which the Scuola forms an intense network of collaboration.  The doctorate course in particular is taught in a veritable graduate school in line with the highest international standards. 

The Palazzo dell'Orologio now contains the Library of the Scuola Normale Superiore. Its current aspect is the result of transformations which took place one after another from the Middle Ages up to the 20th century.

The two main structures already existed in the Middle Ages and were connected from the beginning by a vault. On the left there was the tower-house called the Palazzotto della Giustizia or del Capitano, seat of the magistrates of Pisa, and on the right there was the tower, called dei Gualandi or “moulting”. This name refers to the eagle, symbol of the power of Pisa and its figurative “changing of the feathers” as power structures changed. But the tower was especially known as the Torre della Fame because of the tragic death of Count Ugolino which took place there and was recounted by Dante in Canto XXXIII of the Inferno.

In the 16th century, while work was feverishly going ahead on the Palazzo della Carovana, the Palazzo dell'Orologio was only restored and adapted to be used as an infirmary, directed by the so-called “Buon Uomo” (Good Man) from whom the building temporarily took its name.

The building took on its coherent form in 1605-1608. The Torre della Fame was enclosed in the rest of the structures on the right, and the two parts of the building were connected by a passageway over the vault. The façade was decorated with frescoes by Giovanni Stefano Maruscelli and Filippo and Lorenzo Paladini using iconography suggested by the General Curator of the Order of Knights, Rodolfo Sirigatti. The cycle of frescoes celebrated the Medicis' good government with the allegories of Peace, Earth, Abundance, Intelligence, Glory and Nations. Most frescoes have been lost.

The small bell tower was added in 1696. It accentuated the vertical axis of a symmetrical façade which had been opportunely applied over the united structures, hiding the original irregularities.

Until 1804 the building was used as a residence for elderly knights and as an infirmary. From 1808 to 1810 it passed under French domination and then into state domain and was then sold to private owners. In 1919 it was purchased by Count Baly-Alberto della Gherardesca, who restored it once again, with the addition of the four neo-medieval lancet windows on the left side of the façade.