Having lived on Staten Island for the past three years I have become accustomed to hearing the name Verrazano on a daily basis. After all, we have a bridge and an honors program named after the famed explorer and Giovanni and I are even friends on Facebook! However, after spending time working in Delaware over the summer, it turns out the people of Delaware also have an interest in this explorer of long ago. As many of you already know, Giovanni da Verrazano was an Italian explorer who sailed under the French crown during the sixteenth century. He is best known for exploring the middle Atlantic Coast and spotting what would later be known as the Hudson River. You might not be so familiar with his work concerning Lewes and Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Yes that’s right, Delaware. You see, 500 years ago when Verrazano was exploring the Atlantic coast he happened to chart some of the water surrounding an area called Cape Henlopen. You know what Cape Henolpen is right? No, not ringing a bell? Well basically Cape Henlopen is the hook at the very bottom of Delaware where Lewes and Rehoboth are located; Verrazano charted the water around that little hook that no one besides people from Delaware has heard of. In fact the people of Delaware didn’t even know this had all happened until it was discovered during an archival study done by some professor in Italy.
So how have I become so knowledgeable regarding this aspect of Verrazano’s career you ask? Well over the summer I was interning at the Lewes Historical Society and one day noticed a case containing a large stone. This stone, it turns out, is from Verrazano’s castle in Italy which was given to the historical society by the current owner when he came to Delaware for the monument unveiling. Yes that’s right dear reader, the monument unveiling! Having discovered this small piece of information about Giovanni, which has practically no historical importance, what were the citizens of Lewes and Rehoboth to do? Well build a rather sizeable monument of course! So if you ever find yourself on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, I beseech you to visit the Giovanni Verrazano monument which commemorates his exploration of America and is located at the end of Olive Ave.