Da Verrazzano and the Discovery of New York


Giovanni da Verrazzano was born in 1485 in the castle of Da Verrazzano’s family, on the Chianti hills 19 km away from Florence. Raised in Florence, Giovanni later moved to Dieppe in France and entered the French naval service.
In the early 1520s the east coast of what is now the United States of America – between Florida (discovered by Spanish) and Newfoundland (Canada, discovered by English and Portuguese explorers) was largely unexplored. In 1524 the French King Francis I decided to send out an expedition to the North American east coast, and he chose Giovanni da Verrazzano to lead the expedition.

In early March he arrived at Cape Fear in North Carolina. He then continued northward, exploring the eastern seaboard of North America as far as Nova Scotia.
Verrazzano was the first European to enter the bay of New York; NYC remembers him with the Verrazzano Bridge, joining Staten Island and Brooklyn at the entrance to New York Harbour.

The life of Giovanni finished badly. In 1528 he follow the lesser Antilles, where it seems he met the natives of the island of Guadeloupe. Unfortunately, the natives were not a friendly tribe that wanted to trade but a cannibalistic people who killed Giovanni and ate him, before the eyes of his brother Gerolamo. The ship was too far away to give gunfire support.

Gerolamo came back to Europe and later, Florence, where he drew the map of his brother’s discoveries and told the unhappy story of the great but unfortunate explorer.

You can find more information about Giovanni da Verrazzano at this site and about his birthplace at Verrazzano.com.

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