During one of my random surfing on the internet, I bumped into this note appeared on the newspaper “Corriere della Sera” on October 28th, 1921. It shortly reports about a lecture given the day before by Albert Einstein in Padua University.
Here’s what the article says (my translation).
“In the lecture hall of our University Albert Einstein gave today the announced conference. The hall is very crowded. Professor Ricci-Curbastro of physics and mathematics department introduces Professor Einstein with eminent words also reminding that three centuries ago, in the same hall, Galileo Galilei taught a new subject: mechanics. Professor Einstein, who speaks in Italian, expressed his pleasure to talk in the city where works Professor Ricci, to whom is due absolute differential calculus, the mathematical tool necessary to convey the general relativity.
Afterwords he presented in summary, as in the conferences in Bologna, the essential features of this theory. Professor Einstein was very much applauded.”
Einstein spoke English with a very strong German accent. There are many recordings of his speeches in English. He also spoke Italian and French: it’s well known Einstein had a job at the Federal Office for Intellectual Property in Bern, Switzerland. To get a job like that people must be proficient in the three national Swiss languages German, French and Italian.
And Einstein spoke Italian well enough to give conferences.
On October 22nd, 24th and 26th 1921, the year he was awarded by Nobel prize, he held some conferences on general relativity at Bologna University. Papers reported that he was acclaimed like a star by the students.