The beginning

At the time of the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy, the Faculty of Literature and Philosophy in Bologna had six chairs; the chair of Italian and Latin Literature was held by a priest, monsignor Gaetano Golfieri, who refused to swear allegiance to the King of Italy. Giovanni Prati was invited to take over from the protester, although he claimed that family matters impeded him from accepting and so the chair was offered to Giosuè Carducci.
Carducci Classroom

This was clearly a hard task. Having been the fulcrum of European culture for many centuries, by the first half of the 19th century the Studium of Bologna had been reduced to a meagre provincial university. In 1859 it had just 300 enrolled students, none of whom to the Faculty of Literature. As in the rest of the country, the chair of Italian Literature in Bologna had to be the one most representative of the new national character of the universities of united Italy.

Giosuè Carducci was fully aware of the hard task before him, but the outset of his academic career was difficult. After the inaugural lecture Carducci held before a large and curious audience, almost nobody went to hear him speak again.

His lectures, held in the university hall that now carries his name, in via Zamboni 33, were attended by very few. His eloquence and his teachings however became renowned, and the number of young students enrolled in the Faculty of Literature grew quickly. The small, recently renovated room was soon too small to house the large audience, which - to Carducci's chagrin - often included some curious bystanders and admirers. The presence of these intruders led him to state that people came to study in that class, not to seek impressions of a famous man.