Although a philosopher and not a scientist, Roberto Ardigò, the father of Italian positivism, actively contributed to the birth of psychology as an autonomous science. Since his arrival at the University of Padua in 1881, he proposed integrating the traditional teaching of theoretical philosophy with the experimental investigation of mental facts, and therefore argued for the establishment of a psychological laboratory. After some attempts to introduce his followers, such as Giovanni Marchesini, to psychological studies, Ardigò’s project started to take shape when in 1898 he sent his pupil Gino Melati to be trained at the Leipzig laboratory under the supervision of Wilhelm Wundt. Melati fruitfully spent around two years abroad investigating the perception of binaural beats, likely with the cooperation of Felix Krueger. His research was published in the scholarly journal Philosophische Studien. In 1903 Melati asked for a libera docenza (a sort of Privatdozentur) in Psychology, which would have enabled him to teach at university. However, he did not obtain the qualification and eventually Melati gave up science for politics. This paper aims to reconstruct, with the support of unpublished archival material, the almost completely ignored story of this disciple of Ardigò and his unsuccessful effort to introduce experimental psychology in Padua long before the arrival of Vittorio Benussi in 1919.