Introduction - Italian Explorers
There have been many famous Italian explorers; in fact Italy produced perhaps the most famous explorer in history; Christopher Columbus. On this page we provide a list of Italian explorers who made major contributions to the exploration of the world. This list will include information on who these explorers were, where they traveled, and why they took such great risk. These facts are written for both kids and adults alike.
You will see in the information in this section that many Italian explorers from the Age of Exploration, did not sail for Italy; perhaps most famously was Columbus who sailed for Spain. He like many explorers had trouble getting financing for their journeys and would sail for whatever country was willing to pay the high cost of their explorations.
Famous Italian Explorers List
- Marco Polo - was a merchant and explorer from Venice Italy. In 1271 he set out for Asia, including China, with his father and uncle; a trip he documented very well. He was not the first European to reach China but his detailed documentation was unprecedented and peaked European curiosity about these far off lands.
- Christopher Columbus - the most famous explorer in history is often credited with discovering the "New World". Although the Vikings actually landed in North America nearly 500 years before him his "re-discovery of the Americas set off a wave of exploration and eventual settlement of the "new world".
- Amerigo Vespucci - is a famous Italian explorer who, in the early 1500s, made several voyages to the "New World". It is generally believed that the word America is derived from his first name. He had a school of navigation in Seville, Italy.
- John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto) - was an Italian explorer who, while sailing for England, explored parts of the North American continent. He is believed to be the first European to explore the North American continent since the famous Viking explorer Leif Ericson landed there some 500 years earlier. It should be noted that in 1492 Christopher Columbus did reach the "New World" but did not set foot on the North American continent; but rather several Caribbean Islands.
- Sebastian Cabot (Sebastiano Caboto) - was John Cabot's son and followed in his father's footsteps as a great explorer. He searched for the Northwest Passage; a water passage connecting the Atlantic coast of North America to the Pacific Ocean which eluded explorers for centuries. This passage actually does exist; but through frozen artic waters. He is most famous for circumnavigating the world; which occurred after the well-known explorer Magellan accomplished this.
- Giovanni da Verrazzano - was from Florence, Italy and explored for France. He is the first European to sail into New York Harbor where today, in honor of this great explorer, stands the Verrazano suspension bridge.
- Henri de Tonti - was born on the Italian island of Sicily but joined the French Navy and explored for France. He explored areas of the "New World" including areas that are today the U.S. states of Illinois and Mississippi. In 1682 he explored the Mississippi River with the famous French explorer La Salle.
- Giovanni da Pian del Carpine - who is usually called John of Pian de Carpine in English was sent to visit the Mongol Empire by Pope Innocent IV in 1245 AD. He is the first European explorer to write about central Asia and the Mongol Empire.