From Politecnico (Polytechnic University) to Istituto Tecnico Commerciale (Commercial and Technical Institute).
Even after the end of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Institute maintained its independence and its leading role in the scientific and technical education field for a long time thanks to the constant interest from the Province and the Comune of Florence.
From January 1st 1870 until 1888 the Institute depended thoroughly on the Province, that demanded it to the national government in order to make it a polytechnic school. The Province intended to reform the entire school system of Florence and thus systematically acquired instruments, naturalistic collections, industry produces and books until it made up a unique heritage in Italy.
The success of this rigorous and efficient school – named after Galileo Galilei since 1883 – is due to the high quality of teaching. Many famous teachers have worked there: Adolfo and Antonio Targioni Tozzetti, Gilberto Govi, Damiano Casanti, Niccola Collignon, Emilio Bechi, Dino Carina, Ignazio Porro, Silvestro Gherardi, Giuseppe Erede, Guido Falorsi, Emilio Villari, Antonio Roiti, Vito Volterra, Giacomo Bellacchi, Giulio Bellotti, Pietro Marchi, Decio Bocci, Giacomo Trabucco, Adolfo Bartoli, Diego Garoglio, Giovanni Sansone, Lino Vaccari, Enrico D’Inca Levis, and Luigi Fallacara.
Thanks to the institute’s way of teaching, the number of students rapidly increased. That is when the Comune of Florence built a new location for the Istituto Tecnico Toscano in via del Mandorlo (today via Giuseppe Giusti) 29, where it still is nowadays.
Over the years, many schools merged into the Institute: the Geometri-agrimensori (Surveyors and Land Surveyors) Department since 1857; the Scuole Elementari di Disegno in 1859; the Commercio e Amministrazione (Trade and Management) Department, the Scuola delle Miniere (Mining School), and the Podere agrario (Farm land) delle Cascine dell’Isola in 1863; the Fisico-artistica (Physics and Arts) Department in 1910.
The Gentile Reform
In 1923, following the Gentile Reform, part of the heritage – together with the Fisico-meccanica (Physics and Mechanics) Department – became the new Liceo Scientifico (Scientific high school) of Florence. Afterwards, the Institute became the Istituto Tecnico Commerciale e per Geometri (Commercial and Technical and Surveyor Insitute), which in 1933 will turn into its official name.
The Institute has been a vivid presence for the city of Florence, which has been witnessed mostly by all the generations of students who became professionals and positively influenced the economic and social fabric of the city. The Institute – universally known as Galilei – has gradually changed its function and activities: the laboratories, scientific departments, and the library have shifted from the original educational role to a new historical and documentary value. Since september 1999, the Istituto Tecnico Geometri e Commerciale “G. Salvemini – E. F. Duca d’Aosta”.
has turned into this new institution because of the merging of two of the most important and ancient schools of Florence: the Istituto Tecnico per Geometri “Gaetano Salvemini”, formerly the Istituto Tecnico Toscano founded by Leopold Duke of Lorraine in 1853, and the Istituto Tecnico Commerciale “E.F. Duca d’Aosta”, already existing since 1876 as Scuola di Commercio (Trading School), both located in the historical center, in via Giusti and in via della Colonna, respectively.