This article deals with the perception of the German academic model in 19th and early 20th century Italy. The high popularity of the model up to the first world war was based upon a selective perception of its constituent parts: the freedom of teaching and learning, the idealized role of the Privatdozent, the competition in and among the universities, the prevalence of scientific aims over educational ones. The debate in the press, in parliament, university journals and the academic world shows that the German model, altough generally well known, was often exploited. In fact, even if many authors warned of superficial comparisons and the difficulty of an application to the Italian situation, the model supplied arguments for nearly each participant in the Italian university reform debate since the middle of the 19th century.
Keywords: Germany, science, model, perception, Italy, university.