Who would have ever imagine that the first woman in history to have obtain a graduation was Venetian?

How many women had been able to distinguish themselves in the most flourishing years of the city?

Who were the most peculiar and charming feminine personalities, who gave their personal contribution to the lagoon and, why not, to the emancipation of women?

Here we are going to find out the story of some women who made their path and career, starting in the “city of water”: another reason to be proud of our wonderful Venice and to discover its most underrated characters, which we want to bring to light.

Elena Lucrezia Cornaro
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Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Psicopia

Born in 1646, her father was the San Marco de Supra attorney, which constitutes one of the higher positions of the Republic.

Extremely intelligent and talented, she was encouraged to follow the linguistic and classic studies. In order to continue to perform her abilities, she decided to take the vows: as a matter of fact, it was extremely difficult for a woman to be an intellectual, and if Elena had married, she probably would have been obligated to stop studying. The ecclesiastical career allowed her to enroll in the University of Padua, in the faculty of theology.

Unfortunately, she received her graduation only at 32 years old, in philosophy: in Cardinal Gregorio Barbarigo’s opinion, it was a shame to give the title of doctor to a woman, especially in religious and theological subjects.

However, Elena was probably one of the first woman to graduate, even if we still have to wait for a lot of years to achieve a revolution of feminine education.

Gaspara Stampa

This poetess was born in Padua in 1523, but moved to Venice at the age of 19 years old, after the death of the father, an event which will mark her life forever.

She was well hosted, anyway, from the Venetian nobility, who immediately recognized the talent of the girl for literature and rhymes: they were ready to entitle her “the new Saffo”.

Very soon, her house (located in San Trovaso, near the Church of the Saints Gervasio and Protasio) became a literary sitting room, point of reference for artists, intellectuals and poets.

Her 300 rhymes were almost all dedicated to Collaltino of Collalto, count from Treviso and a man who she deeply loved.

Gaspara, however, was a very unstable woman: she suffered from depression and had a lot of crisis during her short life, ended when she was only 31 years old.

Veronica Franco

The last powerful Venetian woman we are going to analyze is Veronica Franco born in 1545 in Venice, from a noble family.

She was characterized by a strong, independent personality and her life of court lady did not prevail on her love for literature and poetry.

She is particularly remembered for her trouble with the Holy Office of the city, and for a period she risked to be accused of witchcraft and sorcery, a classic pretext that the powerful men of those times used to doom and eliminate the most dangerous and thorny personalities.

Luckily, Veronica brilliantly overcame the trial and she obtained the discharge.


venezia carnival

As we can see, Venice is not only the city of wonderful monuments, landscapes and floating glimpes, but also homeland of incredible big shots: known or not, they were able to insert a block in the structure that is the city of Venice now, and for this, they have to be taken into account!


Post by Elisa Gentile