The Italian Physical Society (SIF - Società Italiana di Fisica), founded in 1897 is a non-profit association with the aim to promote, favour and protect the progress of Physics in Italy and worldwide. SIF represents the Italian scientific community, in the research, the educational and professional fields, either private or public, relative to all areas of Physics and its applications (Medicine, Biology, Informatics, Economics and Finance, Meteorology and Climate, Environment, Archeometry, Cultural Heritage and others).
At the epoch of its foundation the Society was tightly bound to the monthly review Il Nuovo Cimento, actually on the January issue of 1897 the subtitle "Organ of the Italian Physical Society" appeared for the first time on the journal.The journal had been founded in 1855 and its title was strictly related to the ancient "Accademia del Cimento" an association dating back to 1657 founded by Prince Leopoldo de Medici and the followers of Galileo Galilei. The association motto was "Provando and Riprovando" (which refers to the experimental method) and was adopted by SIF as written on the logo. When SIF was founded, one of the promoters Riccardo Felici was the sole owner of the journal and decided to assign it to the Society.
Physicists like A. Battelli, P. Blaserna, G. Ferraris, A. Garbasso, A. Pacinotti, A. Righi, A. Ròiti and V. Volterra, together with R. Felici participated in the foundation.
SIF first president was Pietro Blaserna in 1897. A. Roiti, A. Righi, A. Battelli, V. Volterra, M. Cantone, A. Garbasso, O.M. Corbino and Quirino Majorana were the Presidents who succeeded one another, up to 1943.
During the first decades of the XX Century emphasis was mainly placed on promotional activities held by Society's eminent Members. Starting from the 30's a new generation of physicists, among whom the brilliant and lively personalities of Corbino and Garbasso, became more active, boosting the development of physics in Italy through SIF activities and placing the Society in an international context.
The development of SIF was closely associated to the development of "Il Nuovo Cimento". From 1855 to the beginning of the Second World War "Il Nuovo Cimento" maintained its initial characteristic of being a national journal, just like many other European scientific journals, with the exception of German and English ones.
After World War II, starting from 1947, SIF showed an impressive quantitative and qualitative growth: the number of Members increased from about 260 to about 2000 and the Society became an influential national institution for the development of physics amongst all the other European physical societies.
During the presidency of Giovanni Polvani (1947-1961) the Society increased both its activities and Members and "Il Nuovo Cimento" assessed its international value. Important initiatives were set up, like the International School of Physics, held in Varenna at Villa Monastero, which was later called after Enrico Fermi.
Gilberto Bernardini was then elected president (1962-1967) and he was one of the founders of the European Physical Society (in 1968 the first EPS President). Subsequently the Presidents of SIF were Giuliano Toraldo di Francia (1968-1973), Carlo Castagnoli (1974-1981), Renato Angelo Ricci (1982-1998), Giuseppe-Franco Bassani (1999-2007) and Luisa Cifarelli (from 2008).