The first university in Florence was the Studium Generale, which was established by the Florentine Republic in 1321. The Studium was recognized by Pope Clement VI in 1349, and authorized to grant regular degrees. The Pope also established that the first Italian faculty of theology would be in Florence. The Studium became an imperial university in 1364, but was moved to Pisa in 1473 when Lorenzo the Magnificent gained control of Florence. Charles VIII moved it back from 1497–1515, but it was moved to Pisa again when the Medici family returned to power.
The modern university dates from 1859, when a group of disparate higher-studies institutions grouped together in the Istituto di Studi Pratici e di Perfezionamento, which a year later was recognized as a full-fledged university by the government of newly unified Italy. In 1923, the Istituto was officially denominated as University by the Italian Parliament.
The 12 schools of the university are: Agriculture; Architecture; Arts; Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences; Medicine and Surgery; Pharmacology; Political Science; and Psychology.
Faculties are located in traditionally strategic areas based on their subject matter. The Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Political Sciences are in the Polo delle Scienze Sociali (campus of social sciences), in the Novoli district, near the new courthouse. The Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, the Faculty of Pharmacology, and certain scientific and engineering departments are in the Careggi district, close to the hospital. The Faculty of Engineering is located at the S. Marta Institute, whereas the Faculty of Agriculture is in front of the Parco delle Cascine. The Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences is located in Sesto Fiorentino. The Faculty of Architecture is in the center of the city, as the Accademia di Belle Arti, home of Michelangelo’s David. The Faculties of Literature, History, Philosophy, and Pedagogy are in the centre of Florence.
Among the best-known people who have attended the University of Florence are
Former Governor General of Canada
Current Secretary-General of La Francophonie
Italian political leaders
Giorgio La Pira