Verrazzano Day Date in the current year: April 17, 2024

Verrazzano Day Verrazzano Day, sometimes misspelled Verrazano Day, is a relatively obscure observance commemorating the discovery of New York Harbor by the Florentine explorer Giovanni de Verrazzano. It is celebrated on April 17 in New York state and the Italian town of Greve in Chianti, where Verrazzano is said to have been born.

Giovanni de Verrazzano was born in 1485 in the Republic of Florence. His family owned a castle in Greve, a town south of Florence, where he is believed to have been born. Although some scholars claim that Verrazzano was born in Lyon, he always identified as Florentine.

Verrazzano began his career as a navigator in Dieppe, a port in northern France, sometime around 1506. He embarked on his first journey to the New World in 1508 on the ship La Pensée owned by Jean Ango and captained by Thomas Aubert. During this voyage, he explored the region of Newfoundland in Canada.

In 1522, the few surviving members of Ferdinand Magellan’s crew returned to Spain after completing the first circumnavigation of the globe. It became evident that seeking new trade routes was key to gaining the upper hand in trade and so French merchants and financiers compelled King Francis I to finance an expedition to the New World.

The king asked Verrazzano to explore the area between Newfoundland and Florida in order to find a sea route to the Pacific Ocean. Verrazzano’s first attempt to embark on an expedition failed due to a violent storm that destroyed two ships and damaged the other two. After repairs, the ships set sail to Madeira in late 1523. One of the ships was forced to head back to home port due to complications, but Verrazzano’s ship finally headed for North America on January 17, 1524.

The ship approached Cape Fear on the coast of present-day North Carolina on about March 21 and continued to explore the eastern coast of North America further downwards. On April 17, 1524, exactly three months since his departure from Madeira, Verrazzano discovered New York Bay, which he named New Angoulême in honor of King Francis I, who had been Count of Angoulême prior to his coronation.

Verrazzano is less famous than other explorers of the New World; until the mid-20th century Henry Hudson, who arrived to what is now New York City in 1609, had been considered the first European explorer of the area. To recognize Verrazzano as the first documented European explorer to reach New York Harbor, the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in NewYork was named after him.

Interestingly, the official name of the bridge was originally misspelled; it contained one “z” instead of two. It took until 2018 — over five decades since the opening of the bridge — for the name to be changed.

Verrazzano Day is observed on April 17 to commemorate the explorer’s arrival to New York Bay. Various events to celebrate Verrazzano Day are held at the Castle of Verrazzano in Verazzano’s birth town of Greve in Chianti. Since 1958, the castle has been owned by the Capellini family that recognizes the importance of its history for the region and promotes the celebration of Verrazzano Day.

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Verrazzano Day, Verrazano Day, unofficial holidays, holidays in the United States, holidays in Italy, Giovanni de Verrazzano