Giovanni da Verrazzano
Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528) was born in the castle of his wealthy Florentine family in the Val di Greve. As a young man he chose a seafaring career and moved to Dieppe in Normandy. In 1523 King Francis I of France ordered the exploration of the area between Florida and Newfoundland in search of a new route to the Pacific Ocean. Verrazzano made several stops along the coast and came into contact with Native Americans.
Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to enter the New York Bay and to drop anchor in The Narrows, the strait between Staten Island and Long Island. Four hundred and forty years later, in 1964, the bridge over the strait of The Narrows, which connects the two New York neighborhoods of Staten Island and Brooklyn, was inaugurated. 1298 meters long, a masterpiece of engineering, and today the starting point of the New York marathon, the bridge was rightly named after Giovanni da Verrazzano.