Five Hundred Years After Giovanni da Verrazzano - 27 East

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Five Hundred Years After Giovanni da Verrazzano

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Actor Robert Spiotto presents “Verrazzano: In His Own Words” at Montauk Library on May 5. FRIARS CLUB NYC

Actor Robert Spiotto presents “Verrazzano: In His Own Words” at Montauk Library on May 5. FRIARS CLUB NYC

Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano from the book

Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano from the book "Coureurs des mers [Seafarers]" by Poivre d’Arvor. COURTESY MONTAUK LIBRARY

authorStaff Writer on Apr 15, 2024

The Montauk Library will present a series of concerts and live performances in the coming months as part of “Waterways: Commemorating The 500th Anniversary of Verrazzano’s Voyage in 1524.”

Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano (1485-1528), an explorer for France, was the first European to sight New York Harbor and Narragansett Bay. After receiving a formal education in Florence, Verrazzano entered France’s maritime service. After several voyages to the Levant, in 1523 he secured two ships for a voyage backed by the King Francis I of France and other investors to discover a westward passage to Asia. In January 1524 he sailed La Dauphine across the Atlantic, reaching Cape Fear in March. Verrazzano then sailed northward, exploring the eastern coast of North America. He made several discoveries, including the sites of present-day New York Harbor, Block Island and Narragansett Bay and wrote accounts of inhabitants he encountered.

The first “Waterways” event, “Italian Songs of the Sea,” takes place at the library on Sunday, April 28, at 3 p.m. and features soprano Cristina Fontanelli. Fontanelli is well-known internationally for her operatic recordings, TV and radio appearances, concerts and nightclub shows, as well as her performances as an Off-Broadway actress and in films.

On Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m., actor Bob Spiotto will present “Verrazzano: In His Own Words.” Spiotto’s presentation will commemorate Verrazzano's voyage to North America in 1524 and his discovery of New York Harbor and encounters with Indigenous people. Spiotto has worked extensively in theater and the creative arts for more than 40 years, including as executive director for Hofstra Entertainment and artistic director of community arts programs at Hofstra University.

The next event on Wednesday, July 10, at 6 p.m. will be “Seafaring: Ballads & Folk Music of Long Island’s Maritime Past” with the Jordan Shapiro Trio. Multi-instrumentalist Shapiro has been presenting various styles of music for over 20 years. Classically trained, Shapiro has performed in many different ensembles and genres, including folk and bluegrass.

These events are free and open to the public. Register at montauklibrary.org/events. Montauk Library is at 871 Montauk Highway in Montauk.

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