The Academy was founded as 'Società Italiana' (Italian Society) in 1782 in Verona by Antonio M. Lorgna, a mathematician and hydraulic engineer who invited the most outstanding scientists from every part of Italy to join the Society. Alessandro Volta, Lazzaro Spallanzani, Luigi Lagrange and Ruggero G. Boscovich were among the first members. Their number was limited to forty and the Society came to be known as ‘The Society of the XL’.
In the same year, Lorgna published the first number of the Memorie, the Society Memoirs. In the preface he stated that “the disadvantage of Italy is that its forces are divided” and that it was necessary “to start combining the knowledge and work of many famous separated Italians” in a single association that “was not of any one State but of all of Italy”. This idea anticipated by several decades the political unification of Italy that took place in 1861.