Origini e sviluppo dell'anatomia patologica a Trieste: Una storia paradigmatica

Translated title of the contribution: Origins and Development of Pathologic Anatomy in Trieste: A Paradigmatic History

M. Melato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The history of the Italian city of Trieste is somewhat unique. In 1382, being unable to compete with nearby Venice, it gave itself up to the Archduchy of Austria, which, while ensuring Trieste a certain degree of autonomy, did nothing to improve the town's economy. Things changed, however, after 1719, when Trieste was declared a Free Port. The city, at the time poor and lacking the human and economic resources that might have given life to the long-awaited trading activities, started to attract flocks of immigrant labourers and professionals, including many physicians. Thus, from mid-18 th C onwards, Trieste witnessed the rise of a local class of physicians. Graduates from the major European universities of the times, these physicians were highly active in the rapid professional and cultural growth of the city. Being free from traditions or affiliations to specific medical schools, this unusually multicultural class of professionals provides a sample of the times' medical class which is particularly suitable for understanding what schools of thought dominated during that period. A number of publications, largely dealing with pathology, and many historical circumstances show that this newly formed class of physicians was influenced by the scientific method advanced by Morgagni in his De Sedibus. It is also clear that Morgagni's influence greatly benefited the city's doctors and soon turned them into fertile and original promoters of ideas, as well as highly skilled professionals. When the times became ripe to take on a specialist in pathology, both medical class and local authorities showed great interest in the field by making sure that the successful candidate, Dr. Simon Pertot, had all the resources and equipment necessary for the specialist to become a central figure in professional training and medical research in Trieste. Thus, the kind of clinical pathology where a single physician performed macroscopic examinations to identify his patient's cause of death gave way to a more specialised discipline which was able to transfer - to post-mortem examinations first and soon after to surgically removed tissues-the wealth of notions developed in the middle of the 19 th C in the basic sciences of chemistry, microbiology and physiology, as had been advanced by the second founding father of the discipline, Virchow. Trieste, therefore, may be said to offer a unique example of the.

Translated title of the contributionOrigins and Development of Pathologic Anatomy in Trieste: A Paradigmatic History
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)495-502
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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