Famous Italian Explorers

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 1 
Marco Polo
(Italian Explorer, Venetian Merchant and Adventurer Who Traveled from Europe to Asia Between 1271 and 1295)
Marco Polo
11
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.

 2 
Christopher Columbus
17
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.

 3 
Amerigo Vespucci
(Discoverer of South America)
Amerigo Vespucci
8
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
(Explorer)
John Cabot
9
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
4
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 
Antonio Pigafetta
4
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.

 7 
Andrea Doria
(Condottiero)
Andrea Doria
3
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.

 8 
Giovanni Battista Belzoni
(Explorer, Antiquarian, Egyptologist, Archaeologist, Novelist, Travel writer)
Giovanni Battista Belzoni
3
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. 

 9 
Freya Stark
(British-Italian Explorer and Travel Writer)
Freya Stark
5
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.

 10 
Bartholomew Columbus
(Italian Explorer and the Younger Brother of Christopher Columbus)
Bartholomew Columbus
5
Birthdate: 1461 AD
Birthplace: Genoa, Italy
Died: August 12, 1514
 11 
Walter Bonatti
(Mountaineer Known for Solo Climb of 'Aiguille du Dru')
Walter Bonatti
3
Birthdate: June 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bergamo, Italy
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.    

 12 
Sebastian Cabot
(Former Explorer)
Sebastian Cabot
3
Birthdate: 1474 AD
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: 1557 AD
 13 
Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi
(Italian Mountaineer, Explorer and Duke of the Abruzzi)
Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi
2
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.

 14 
Niccolò de' Conti
2
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.

 15 
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
(Italian Diplomat, Archbishop and Explorer)
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
2
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.

 16 
Umberto Nobile
(Explorer, Aerospace engineer, Politician, Military personnel)
Umberto Nobile
2
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.

 17 
Odoric of Pordenone
(Italian Franciscan Friar and Missionary Explorer)
Odoric of Pordenone
2
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.

 18 
Ludovico di Varthema
(Italian Traveller Known for Being One of the First Non-Muslim Europeans to Enter Mecca as a Pilgrim)
Ludovico di Varthema
2
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.

 19 
Alvise Cadamosto
1
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.

 20 
Pietro della Valle
(Italian Composer and Musicologist of the Renaissance Period)
Pietro della Valle
1
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.

 21 
Ardito Desio
(Italian Explorer, Mountain Climber, Geologist, and Cartographer)
Ardito Desio
1
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.

 22 
Giovanni de' Marignolli
1
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.

 23 
Romolo Gessi
(Italian Soldier and Explorer Who Mapped Out the Last Unexplored Part of the Nile)
Romolo Gessi
0
Birthdate: April 30, 1831
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ravenna, Italy
Died: May 1, 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.

Luigi Robecchi-Bricchetti
0
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.

 25 
Pellegrino Matteucci
0
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.

 26 
Carlo Piaggia
(Explorer)
Carlo Piaggia
4
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.