Giovanni da Verrazzano (also incorrectly spelled Verrazano) was an Italian Explorer famous for his exploration of the Atlantic coast of North America. His exploration included New York Bay which today has a bridge
named for him, the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, spanning the area of the bay called the narrows. On this page is a list of interesting facts about this explorer. Information on
this page includes when he sailed to America, who financed his voyage, and how he died. This information is written for kids and adults.
Giovanni da Verrazzano Early Years
He was born around 1485 AD near Val di Greve (the valley of the river Greve) in central Tuscany, Italy.
Around 1506 or 1507 he moved to the port city of Dieppe, France located on the English Channel. He began pursuing a maritime career as a navigator.
Verrazzano sailed on numerous voyages into the Eastern Mediterranean. He participated in numerous attacks on Spanish and Portuguese sea vessels laden with gold and silver
obtained from the Americas.
Around 1522 Verrazzano met with King Francis I of France to discuss a possible voyage to explore the "New World" (America). The King was concerned that France was falling behind
Spain and Portugal in the exploration of the new found lands to the west which offered the possibility of great riches and territorial expansion for France.
Giovanni da Verrazzano Early Voyage(s) to America
In January of 1525 King Francis I of France authorized a voyage to North America; Verrazano was selected to command one of one of the four ships, the Dauphine.
The mission of his first voyage was exploration of the North American coast, to establish a precedent for territorial claims in North America for France, and to search for a
"Northwest Passage" to the orient.
The Dauphine was actually the only ship to head out across the Atlantic Ocean whereas the other three ships in the fleet broke away to hunt and capture Spanish ships returning
from the Americas with gold and silver.
On March 1st of 1524 Verrazzano reached the North American coast near Cape Fear, North Carolina. He sailed north in order to explore the coast.
Giovanni da Verrazzano sailed the Dauphine up and down the North American coast traveling as far north as Nova Scotia.
During his first voyage to North America he sailed into Chesapeake Bay which he mistakenly thought was a passage through North America into the Pacific Ocean. This mistake
resulted in many maps of North America being incorrectly drawn showing a passage through the continent to the Pacific Ocean.
Verrazzano's first voyage included the exploration of Delaware Bay, New York Bay, the Hudson River, and Narragansett Bay.
Verrazzano and his crew returned to France after a voyage that lasted approximately seven months.
Verrazzano wrote accounts of the regions he explored which included the land and the natives; some of which were not accurate.
Some historians believe Giovanni da Verrazzano made one or two additional voyages to America between his first expedition and his last, which is discussed below, however it is
not clear if these voyages actually occurred.
Giovanni da Verrazzano Last Voyage to America and His Death
Verrazzano's last voyage to America departed Dieppe, France in March of 1528.
The purpose of the voyage was to find a westward passage to Asia through the American continent.
Verrazzano sailed down the coast of Florida and then into the Caribbean Sea.
At some point on this voyage Giovanni da Verrazzano died. The cause of his death is not well documented. It is believed he either died in a storm or was killed by natives.