Famous Italian Explorers

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: October 31, 1451
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
Died: May 20, 1506

An Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, wanted to discover a direct water route from Europe to Asia. In his four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain, however, what he ended up discovering was not Asia, but America. Though he was not the first one to land in America, his historical journey began what eventually turned into Spanish colonization of America.

 2 Marco Polo

Marco Polo
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1254 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: January 8, 1324

Marco Polo was a Venetian explorer, writer, and merchant. He explored Asia along the Silk Road and is credited with providing the Europeans with descriptions of the culture of the Eastern world, which remained unknown until his exploration. Polo's travel book inspired other travelers like Christopher Columbus. His writings also influenced European cartography, which led to the Fra Mauro map.

 3 Amerigo Vespucci

Amerigo Vespucci
Famous As: Discoverer of South America
Birthdate: March 9, 1454
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Florence
Died: February 22, 1512

Amerigo Vespucci was a merchant, navigator, and explorer. Credited with participating in two major voyages of the Age of Discovery, Vespucci's claim that the New World represented a new continent inspired cartographers to associate the name America (a Latinized form of his first name) to the newly discovered continents.

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 4 John Cabot

John Cabot
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1450 AD
Birthplace: Castiglione Chiavarese, Republic of Genoa
Died: 1508 AD
Italian explorer and navigator John Cabot is remembered for his 1497 voyage to the North American coast, commissioned by Henry VII of England, which is the earliest-known European voyage to coastal North America since the Norse explorations. A lot of statues and towers have been erected in his honor.

 5 Giovanni da Verrazzano

Giovanni da Verrazzano
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1485 AD
Birthplace: Greve in Chianti
Died: 1528 AD
Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to explore the areas along the North American coast, including what is now known as Hudson Bay. In fact, Henry Hudson reached the same area almost 85 years later and was hailed as its explorer, while Verrazzano’s exploits were practically unknown.

 6 Reinhold Messner

Reinhold Messner
Famous As: Explorer, Politician, Writer, Mountaineer
Birthdate: September 17, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brixen

Italian mountaineer and explorer Reinhold Messner teamed up with Austrian mountaineer Peter Habeler to be the first to climb Mount Everest without using oxygen cylinders. He is also the first to complete a solo ascent of Everest and the first to climb all the 14 mountain peaks that stand above 8000m.

 7 Antonio Pigafetta

Antonio Pigafetta
Famous As: Scholar
Birthdate: 1491 AD
Birthplace: Vicenza, Italy
Died: 1531 AD

Antonio Pigafetta was an Italian explorer and scholar. He was part of the famous expedition to the Spice Islands, which was led by Ferdinand Magellan. Pigafetta served as Magellan's assistant during the expedition and kept a journal, which is the first recorded document pertaining to the Cebuano language. Antonio Pigafetta was among the men who achieved the world's first circumnavigation.

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 8 Andrea Doria

Andrea Doria
Famous As: Condottiero
Birthdate: November 30, 1466
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Oneglia
Died: November 25, 1560

Andrea Doria, also known as the Prince of Melfi, was not just an able soldier and an efficient naval commander, but also the ruler of the Republic of Genoa. He fought the pirates and the Turks and also reformed Genoa’s constitution, introducing an oligarchic government.

 9 Giovanni Battista Belzoni

Giovanni Battista Belzoni
Famous As: Explorer, Antiquarian, Egyptologist, Archaeologist, Novelist, Travel writer
Birthdate: November 5, 1778
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Padua
Died: December 3, 1823

Giovanni Battista Belzoni was an Italian explorer and archaeologist of Egyptian antiquities. A pioneer in the field of Egyptian archaeology, Belzoni was the first person to enter the famous Pyramid of Khafre. Belzoni is also credited with unblocking the entrance of the temple at Abu Simbel and discovering the tomb of Seti I, which is referred to as Belzoni's Tomb. 

 10 Freya Stark

Freya Stark
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 31, 1893
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 9, 1993

Freya Stark was an Anglo-Italian travel writer and explorer. One of the first non-Arabs to explore the southern Arabian Desert, Stark penned down over 24 books on her travels in Afghanistan and the Middle East. She also wrote many essays and autobiographical works. In 1968, Freya Stark embarked on her last expedition to Afghanistan at the age of 75.

 11 Sebastian Cabot

Sebastian Cabot
Famous As: Former Explorer
Birthdate: 1474 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: 1557 AD

 12 Walter Bonatti

Walter Bonatti
Famous As: Mountaineer, Explorer, Photographer, Mountain guide, Writer, Journalist
Birthdate: June 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bergamo
Died: September 13, 2011

Walter Bonatti was an Italian explorer, mountain climber, and journalist. He made a solo climb of a new route on the southwest pillar of the Aiguille du Dru in August 1955, among other achievements. He retired from mountaineering at the age of 35 and pursued a career as a reporter. He also wrote several books on mountaineering.    

 13 Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza

Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Castel Gandolfo, Italy
Died: September 14, 1905

Born into an Italian noble family, Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza had had his first taste of exploration when he traveled to Algeria aboard a ship in his early days. He later explored Africa, eventually founding French Congo, now the Republic of Congo, and the city Brazzaville, while also becoming a French citizen.

 14 Achille Compagnoni

Achille Compagnoni
Famous As: Former mountaineer, skier together with Lino Lacedelli on 31 July 1954 he was in the first party to reach the summit of K2
Birthdate: September 26, 1914
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Santa Caterina di Valfurva, Italy
Died: May 13, 2009

Achille Compagnoni was a Lombard skier and mountaineer best remembered for his expedition to K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. Compagnoni was among the men who reached the summit of K2 on 31 July 1954. As a skier, Achille Compagnoni took part in the fourth edition of Trofeo Mezzalama where he helped his team finish second.

 15 Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi

Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi
Famous As: Mountaineer
Birthdate: January 29, 1873
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: March 18, 1933

The son of Spanish king Amadeus, Prince Luigi Amedeo, also known as the Duke of the Abruzzia, was a passionate mountaineer and explorer, who scripted history by becoming the first to climb Mount St. Elias in Alaska. He also conquered the world’s second-highest peak, K2, and even explored parts of Africa.

 16 Niccolò de' Conti

Niccolò de' Conti
Famous As: Merchant
Birthdate: 1395 AD
Birthplace: Chioggia, Italy
Died: 1469 AD

Niccolò de' Conti was an Italian explorer, merchant, and writer who traveled to Southeast Asia during the early 15th century. His work proved beneficial while creating the 1450 Fra Mauro map, which is regarded as the greatest memorial of medieval cartography. The map also indicated the possibility of a sea route from Europe to India.

 17 Umberto Nobile

Umberto Nobile
Famous As: Explorer, Aerospace engineer, Politician, Military personnel
Birthdate: January 21, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Naples
Died: July 30, 1978

Umberto Nobile was an Italian aeronautical engineer, Arctic explorer, and aviator. A developer of semi-rigid airships, Nobile is best remembered for designing the airship Norge, which was the first airship to fly across the polar ice cap between America and Europe. Umberto Nobile is also credited with designing and piloting the airship Italia, which belonged to the Italian Air Force.

 18 Odoric of Pordenone

Odoric of Pordenone
Famous As: Missionary
Birthdate: 1286 AD
Birthplace: Pordenone, Italy
Died: January 14, 1331

Odoric of Pordenone was an Italian Franciscan missionary explorer and friar. Odoric, who traveled far and wide, penned down the narrative of his travels, which are preserved even today in Italian, French, and Latin manuscripts. Many incredible accounts of Sir John Mandeville have proven to be merely distorted versions of Odoric's original eyewitness descriptions.

 19 Henri de Tonti

Henri de Tonti
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: 1649 AD
Birthplace: Gaeta, Italy
Died: September 1, 1704

The son of Neapolitan financier Lorenzo de Tonti, Henri de Tonti was a fearless officer of the French army but lost his right hand in battle. He is also remembered as a passionate explorer who helped in the North American colonization campaigns, sailing along Illinois and Mississippi.

 20 Lodovico de Varthema

Lodovico de Varthema
Famous As: Traveler
Birthdate: 1470 AD
Birthplace: Bologna, Italy
Died: 1517 AD

Italian traveler Lodovico de Varthema was one of the first non-Islamic Europeans to travel to Mecca for a pilgrimage, by either converting to Islam or pretending to. He also set foot in India and visited places such as Goa, Calicut, and Vijayanagar. He was eventually knighted for his achievements.

 21 Alvise Cadamosto

Alvise Cadamosto
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: 1432 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: July 18, 1488

Venetian traveler Alvise Cadamosto is best-known for having written the earliest-known treatises on Africa. Financed by Prince Henry the Navigator from Portugal, he embarked on a voyage to Africa. He and his men were perhaps the first Europeans to visit Cape Verde Islands. His portolan chart was used by later voyagers.

 22 Pietro della Valle

Pietro della Valle
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: April 2, 1586
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: April 21, 1652

Italian traveler Pietro della Valle, known for his voyages to India and Persia, was also a talented musicologist and composer. In Baghdad, he married a Syrian Christian woman, who died in Persia. He later also touched Surat and Calicut in India. His three-volume treatise on his travels focuses on Turkey, Persia, and India.

 23 Ardito Desio

Ardito Desio
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: April 18, 1897
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Palmanova, Italy
Died: December 12, 2001

A mountaineer and a cartographer, Ardito Desio was also a professor of geology. He is best remembered for leading a team of 12 climbers, 4 scientists, a doctor, and a photographer to conquer the Abruzzi Ridge amid extreme weather conditions, and then reach K2, despite losing a member to pneumonia.

 24 Giovanni de' Marignolli

Giovanni de' Marignolli
Famous As: Explorers
Birthdate: 1290 AD
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: 1360 AD

Giovanni de' Marignolli, also known as John of Marignolli, was a 14th-cenntury Franciscan friar who also traveled far and wide. He created history by becoming the first Catholic European to travel to China and India. Though he was detained in Ceylon, he managed to travel to Avignon through Iran.

 25 Giovanni da Pian del Carpine

Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Famous As: Diplomat
Birthdate: 1185 AD
Birthplace: Magione, Italy
Died: August 1, 1252

Medieval Franciscan friar Giovanni da Pian del Carpine was also the first major European traveler to the Mongol region, where he was sent on a mission by Pope Innocent IV. His treatise of his experiences was recorded as Historia Mongalorum and Liber Tartarorum. He later earned the archbishopric of Primate of Serbia.

 26 Romolo Gessi

Romolo Gessi
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: April 30, 1831
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ravenna, Italy
Died: April 30, 1881

Romolo Gessi, also known as Gessi Pasha, was not just an Italian soldier but also an explorer who participated in the exploration of the Nile. He also became the first to circumnavigate Uaganda’s Lake Albert Nyanza. As a soldier, he served the British Empire in Sudan and the Crimea.

 27 Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti

Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: May 21, 1855
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Pavia, Italy
Died: May 31, 1926

Italian explorer Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti was the first person from Europe to cross the Somali peninsula. An illegitimate son of a landowner, he was raised by his mother. Initially interested in civil engineering, he later deviated toward geography and geology, even learning languages such as Arabic and German.

 28 Pellegrino Matteucci

Pellegrino Matteucci
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: October 12, 1850
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ravenna, Italy
Died: August 8, 1881

Italian explorer Pellegrino Matteucci scripted history by becoming the first European to cover the entire African continent north of the Equator. A qualified doctor, he aspired to be a missionary in Africa. He, unfortunately, succumbed to a severe fever that he had contracted while traveling.

 29 Carlo Piaggia

Carlo Piaggia
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 4, 1827
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lucca, Italy
Died: January 17, 1882

Italian explorer Carlo Piaggia is best known for his exploration of Lake Kyoga in Uganda and the upper Nile River system. Though he belonged to a poor family and had very little formal education, his thirst for knowledge led him to learn about the geography and natural history of African nations.