Day 16/10 Giovanni da Verrazzano, first European explorer to enter the harbor of New York, for #ItalianAmericanHeritageMonth.
In 1524, Verrazzano - sailing for France - explored the northeast coast of North America, first stopping in North Carolina, then New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Maine. He was the first European explorer to enter the harbor of New York.
Born in Greve (region of Tuscany), the history of the Verrazzano family can be traced back to the 7th century when the family settled in Greve (now named Greve in Chianti), about 20 miles south of Florence.
Amid political upheavals, the family prospered, and a hilltop castle was built on ancient ruins. Verrazzano's education led him to travel at a young age; and in his early 20s, he moved to France, settling in the popular seaport town of Dieppe. In Dieppe, he became acquainted with those who made their living from the sea and within a few years, he was sailing as a privateer - a private-owned ship sanctioned by the government in warfare - for King Francis I.
Verrazzano's interest in exploration and finding a northwest sea route to the east was backed by spice and silk merchants who wanted a faster and less expensive way to transport merchandise, and by King Francis who had an interest in acquiring land for France. Verrazzano sailed La Dauphine, reaching the coast of what is now North Carolina in 1524. He sailed north along the coast, charting the waters and recording his observations of Native Americans.
He named the island of Manhattan Angoulême for King Francis I, also known as the Count of Angoulême, and provided the information about the coastline for a map made in 1550; showing the Sea of Verrazzano. He made two more voyages for France - exploring the coast of South America, but during the following voyage through Florida and the islands of the Caribbean, he was captured on one of the islands and killed.
In 1909, a statue was erected in Battery Park (New York City), honoring Verrazzano as the first European explorer to enter New York Harbor. In 1964, the world's longest suspension bridge - 4,260 feet - connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island was named in his honor. (The bridge is now the sixteenth longest) A ten-year controversy over naming the bridge after Verrazzano was won by Italian American historian John N. LaCorte through his diligence in establishing that Verrazzano was the discoverer of New York Harbor.