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Piazza Matteotti - Greve in Chianti
April 24, 2024

Giovanni Da Verrazzano: Dal Rinascimento a New York City

The documentary celebrating the Tuscan explorer

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of New York Bay by Giovanni da Verrazzano on 17 April 1524, a documentary by journalist Alan Friedman and film producer and screenwriter Giuseppe Pedersoli, son of Bud Spencer, celebrates the life and exploits of renowned Florentine navigator and explorer Giovanni Da Verrazzano. An engaging look at the life and exploits of one of the greatest navigators of the Renaissance.

The film, entitled Giovanni Da Verrazzano: from the Renaissance to New York City, features the narration of actor Neri Marcorè and was presented at the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio, a few days after its world premiere at the Paley Media Center in Manhattan.

Although the story told is known to all, the documentary offers revealing and interesting insights. The film shows that Da Verrazzano's explorations were as important as those of Christopher Columbus, because it was he who set foot in North America and mapped the entire east coast of the continent, from North Carolina to Newfoundland, while Columbus stopped in the Caribbean. A section of the film is dedicated to Da Verrazzano's encounters with the indigenous peoples of North America that he encountered along his way. We discover that, unlike the Spanish conquistadors, Da Verrazzano established friendly relations with the tribes he met along the east coast of North America, always seeking dialogue and a relationship of mutual respect. Thanks to the work of the Florentine archivist Marco Calafati, the film reveals for the first time on film the original documents concerning the March 1523 loan from the Banca Gondi, found in the family archives. These pages confirm the investment of 700 scudi in Da Verrazzano's expedition. This initial financing, together with Antonio Gondi's personal intercessions, proved decisive in obtaining the King of France Francis I's approval of the voyage.


Giovanni Da Verrazzano: From Renaissance to New York City was filmed almost entirely in Tuscany. Between Florence and Siena, in the territory of Greve in Chianti, stands the Castello di Verrazzano, which became the property of the Verrazzano family in the 7th century. It was here in 1485 that the navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano was born. Tuscany has always had very strong ties with America. In New York there is the famous bridge (The Verrazano) suspended between Brooklyn and Staten Island named after him in 1964. Together with Columbus, Vespucci (who was also from Florence) and Caboto, Verrazzano is among the great Italians who contributed to the exploration of the New World.

In Florence, there are many references and reminders of the Big Apple and the American continent, in particular the link between the Statue of Liberty and the Libertà della Poesia, a marble sculpture by Pio Fedi, located inside the basilica of Santa Croce. It was probably the closest source of inspiration to the famous Statue of Liberty. Florence is also home to many American schools, a very active American Consulate (here is our interview with Ragini Gupta, former Consul General of the United States), and it is also worth mentioning the strong link between the city and America following the tragic flood that hit Florence on 4 November 1966. It was precisely on that occasion that the 'Angeli del fango', a group of young volunteers from many parts of Italy and abroad, was born. Among them was Ted Kennedy, brother of John Fitzgerald and Robert and then Senator from Massachusetts. Unforgettable was his contribution to the city: he was among the mud angels at the National Central Library in Florence. Many American personalities have a past and a bond with the city of Florence, to name but one Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most important architects of the 20th century, who stayed in Fiesole between November 1909 and February 1910. During his stay in Fiesole, Wright went on long walks and excursions, designing an ideal studio house with an enclosed Mediterranean garden, open to the Florentine hills, to be used as an Italian residence for himself and Mamah, the woman for whom Wright left his first wife. He owes his main fame to the design of Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum.


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