This historic marker is dedicated to Giovanni da Verrazano, an Italian explorer who navigated the Atlantic in 1524 on behalf of King Francis I of France. The inscription reads:
"To Giovanni Da Verrazzano, the navigator from Italy who in 1524 crossed the perilous northern ocean, first to behold the coast of the future United States, cast anchor in this bay,
explore its islands, one of which, because of its shape he Christened Rhodes, name later extended to the entire state of Rhode Island. Donated by Carrara, The Marble City, and by Greve in Chanti, where Verrazzano was born, in pledge of ever growing friendship between the American and the Italian peoples."
Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528) grew up in Florence, Italy, but around 1506 entered the French navy, with whom he traveled to Egypt, Syria, and the Levant several times. In an effort to keep up with the explorations of Spain and Portugal, Francis I of France granted ships to da Verrazzano in 1524. In January of the following year, da Verrazzano departed in La Dauphine, arriving at Cape Fear, North Carolina, in March. Of the three additional ships in his small fleet, two were lost at sea during a storm. The third was lost in battle against Spanish ships, and only da Verrazzano's ship made it to the New World, seeking a westward route to Asia. He headed south initially, but turned north at the Florida coast and continued up to Nova Scotia, encountering Rhode Island and Manhattan, among others, along the way--he was the first European to enter New York Bay, and, in the naming of Rhode Island, the first to name New World locations after European places.
After attempting to sail west to Asia via Brazil in 1527, Giovanni da Verrazzano and his brother Girolamo sailed again to Florida in 1528, but drifted into the Caribbean to one of the Lesser Antilles islands, where both brothers were killed and eaten by the local population of Carib Indians.