By: Liz Flynn
Italy has produced some of the most famous explorers of all time. However, not all of these explorers explored on behalf of Italy as this country would often not supply the funding needed for the voyages of exploration. Instead, they would sail for whichever country was willing to provide money. A famous example of this is Christopher Columbus who sailed for Spain. Here are some of the most famous Italian explorers of all time.
John Cabot was the English name given to Giovanni Caboto. It is believed that Cabot was the first explorer to visit mainland North America because Columbus only actually set foot on the Caribbean Islands.
Sebastiano Caboto was John Cabot’s son and an equally famous Italian explorer. One of his most famous voyages was to search for the Northwest passage which he believed existed to connect the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic coast of North America. Although it does exist, it consists of frozen arctic water. Sebastian Cabot also circumnavigated the world just after this achievement was reached by Magellan, another famous explorer.
Columbus is probably the most famous explorer in history. Even though the Vikings arrived in North America almost 500 years prior to him, he is still often credited with the discovery of the New World. It is worth noting that North America was already inhabited prior to the ‘discoveries’ of the Vikings and Columbus. It was following Columbus’ arrival in the New World that a new wave of exploration began and people from all over the world began to settle in the New World.
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
This explorer was given the English name of John of Pian de Carpine. In 1245, he visited the Mongol of Empire of Pope Innocent IV. His accounts of this voyage made him the first European explorer to have written about the Mongol Empire and central Asia.
Born in Venice, Marco Polo was both a merchant and an explorer. Along with his father and Uncle, Polo took a trip to China in 1271. He documented this exploration very well. Although he was not the first explorer to visit China, his writings made him one of the most famous explorers of this part of the world.
Henri di Tonti
Born in Sicily, this Italian explored France when he joined the French Navy. He famously explored areas of the New World, including what is now Mississippi and Illinois. Along with La Salle, a French explorer, he explored the Mississippi River in 1682.
Giovanni da Verrazzano
From Florence, Da Verrazzano sailed for France. He is credited with being the first European to sail into New York Harbor. To honor this achievement, the Verrazano suspension bridge was built.
It is believed that America is named after this explorer due to the similarity between his forename and the name of the country. He made several voyages to the New World in the early 1500s and had a school of navigation in Seville.