Who is Giovanni Verrazzano?
Giovanni Verrazano was an explorer who explored North America. Like John Cabot, Verrazano was born in what is now Italy. While Cabot went on to explore on behalf of England, Verrazano explored for the French. While Cabot was the first European since the Norse to reach North American, Verrazano was the first European (at least since the Norse) to explore a significant distance south from Newfoundland.
It is believed that Verrazano was born to an aristocratic family near Florence in 1485. Not much is known about his early life. We do know that, in 1523, the French King Francis I commissioned Verrazano to explore in the New World. As was commonly the case at that point in the exploration of the New World, it was hoped that Verrazano would find a direct sea route to Asia.
Verrazano embarked on three voyages, the last of which came in 1528. He died on this last voyage. He is famous today because he was the first European to explore along what is now the East Coast of the US. He was, for example, the first recorded European to have explored New York Bay, which is why a bridge there is named after him today.