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An international jurist: Angelo Sraffa

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di Barbara Balcon

Our beloved Velodromo is a rather new building, but the square where it is located is a place where the past meets the present, as it is named after Angelo Sraffa, who was born on December 12, 1865 in Pisa. He is considered to be one of the founders of commercial law and he was a teacher in the Universities of Parma, Turin, Macerata. However, we certainly remember him as rector of Bocconi (1919-26).

Angelo Sraffa

In his life he collected numerous achievements: he founded, together with Cesare Vivante, the Commercial law journal (1903), he directed the private law section of the Treccani Encyclopedia and he was also a member of the commission for the reform of the Commercial Code (1912).

Despite his prestige, on February 15, 1922 Sraffa was assaulted by a group of fascists who claimed to be WWI veterans, right in front of the University. Thanks to the help of some colleagues and students, they were fended off and later Benito Mussolini (at the time director of Popolo d’Italia) issued a formal apology. After this episode, Sraffa was attacked in the pro-fascist press and depicted as hostile towards veterans, but a special commission concluded – in only one day – that these accusations were not grounded.

Despite these events, he did not stop and continued in modernizing Bocconi: during his rectorate he created the Political Economy and Management Institutes and he also started the internationalization process of our University, thanks to an agreement with the Serena Foundation and Italia-America Society. Nowadays Bocconi has bilateral agreements with over 270 universities in 54 countries on all 5 continents! Whether you are dreaming of spending a semester abroad or you already benefited from the exchange program, you might find surprising that the process that made this possible started a century ago and you might end up feeling grateful to those who took the very first steps towards this achievement.

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Author profile

I’ve been part of Tra i Leoni since my first semester at Bocconi up to becoming Deputy Director. I’m a third year BIEF-Economics student and I mainly cover finance and campus life. In 2019 I wrote “Word on the Street”, a weekly column about the story behind the names of campus buildings and spots, while last semester I was the head of our Global Edition.

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