Giovanni da Verrazano or Verrazzano was born on his family's castle, Castello Verrazano, near Val di Greve, 30 miles South of Florence in 1485. Giovanni's father, Alessandro da Verrazano and his young wife, Fiammetta Capella, owned a silk-weaving industry. He had three factories and two sons. One was Giovanni da Verrazano, the elder son, and Gerolamo, the youngest son. Their family chose to settle in France, even though they were natives of Italy. Unlike most Florentines, Giovanni and Gerolamo lacked an interest in business. Gerolamo liked sketching maps and Giovanni just wanted to travel to some warmer country with brighter skies. When he was ten years old, his family went to Florence. His father said that it was about time that they saw their native country and grandparents. "Are we going by land or by sea?" asked Gerolamo. "By the sea." answered his father. They were to travel down the Rhone River to its mouth and then by ship to Genoa. From Genoa to Florence they would travel by coach. It took two to three weeks to get there. After their safe arrival, Giovanni wished that he could stay there for the rest of his life because it was so beautiful. The sky was bright and Florence had cheerful people. Giovanni's grandfather was a kind and wealthy old banker. Grandfather Verrazano always spoke proudly of Florence, but then, so did every other Florentine they met. They had a great reason to be proud of their city. The domes of Florence glittered in the smokeless air, the surrounding slopes of the Apennine Mountains almost reached the surrounding walls, and the stupendous, glittering, beautiful hillsides were covered with vine yards, olives, and white-walled red-roofed villas. In the distance, there was the shining silver thread of the Arno River. Giovanni was quite unhappy when they headed back to France. He gazed at the French city with unfriendly eyes. All Giovanni wanted to do was to leave France and go to that lovely, glittering city beyond the Alps. When Giovanni was 17 years old, he decided on his career. Giovanni made frequent trips to Italy where he received a good training in the art of navigation. When they qualified, they became merchant sea captains. Giovanni had decided to be a seaman.