The PEGASUS Student Conference and the PEGASUS Council will take place at the “Le Benedettine” Congress Center, Piazza S. Paolo a Ripa D’Arno, 16, Pisa, located on the banks of the Arno river just opposite the University’s Rectorate.
Now a quiet and relaxing location, ideally suited to intellectual activity, the place actually has a long and troubled history. The complex, consisting of church and monastery, was built for the Benedictine nuns in 1393, who abandoned the place of their first settlement to take refuge in the city, near the church of S. Paolo a Ripa d’Arno, because of the raids of Saracen pirates. The building underwent massive renovations in the sixteenth century and again in the seventeenth century. In 1808, with the Napoleonic occupation, the monastery was requisitioned and the nuns were forced to move. In 1814, to return in possession, they accepted the condition imposed by Ferdinand of Lorraine and restored the building at their own expense. The current neo-Gothic facade is instead the result of the redesign made in 1850.
The nuns, however, were again expelled in 1866, by virtue of the new laws of the Italian State on the suppression of religious orders. The altars were dismantled in 1889. Only in 1940 they regained possession, as a gift of Queen Elena. Shortly afterwards, on August 31, 1943, the building was bombed by the Allied Forces and at the end of WW2 the nuns, in an attempt to rebuild the indispensable, asked for a dispensation for a few years from the cloister to become itinerant and questors. After a few years, however, they were forced to consider selling the property, now unsafe. The Benedictine complex in Lungarno, closed to worship, was subsequently purchased and restored by private individuals. The complex is now co-owned by the University of Pisa and has been recently brought to new life as a congress centre and a guesthouse for visiting scholars and students.