Sapienza University of Rome, officially Sapienza - Università di Roma, commonly known as Università di Roma "La Sapienza", is a coeducational, autonomous state university in Rome, Italy. It is the largest European university and the oldest of Rome's three state-funded universities; Sapienza was founded in 1303, more than six centuries before Tor Vergata and Roma Tre. In Italian, sapienza means "wisdom" or "knowledge". According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities published by the Institute of Higher Education of Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Sapienza University of Rome ranks among the top 30 European universities.
Sapienza University of Rome was founded as La Sapienza in 1303 by Pope Boniface VIII who issued the bull "In supremae praeminentia dignitatis" on 20 April, 1303, as a Studium for ecclesiastical studies more under his control than the universities of Bologna and Padua. The pope established it so that Rome might become the fruitful mother of science.
In 1431, Pope Eugene IV completely reorganized the studium with the bull "In supremae", in which he granted masters and students alike the broadest possible privileges and decreed that the university should include the four Faculties of Law, Medicine, Philosophy and Theology. He introduced a new tax on wine, in order to raise funds for the university; the money was used to buy a palace that later hosted the Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza church, "La Sapienza."
The university's days of splendor, however, came to an end during the sack of Rome in 1527 when the studium was closed and the professors dispersed; some were killed. Pope Paul III restored the university shortly after his ascension to the pontificate in 1534.
In the 1650s the university became known as Sapienza, meaning wisdom, a title it retains until now. Pope Clement XI purchased some land, in 1703, with his private funds on the Janiculum, where he made a botanical garden, which soon became the most celebrated in Europe through the labours of the brothers Trionfetti.