A delegation from Brazil is on a mission to remind the world—and Florence—about the expeditions and discoveries of Amerigo Vespucci. On March 9, the Vespucci Forum will be held in via Cavour’s Palazzo Bastogi, marking 563 years since the explorer was born in Florence.
The purpose of the Brazilian delegation, led by Leonel Ribeiro, is to have Vespucci’s travels to America recognised by UNESCO. The first step lies in seeking the backing and active involvement of Florence’s institutions. The case for proposing Vespucci and his Brazilian expeditions to UNESCO will be discussed by a panel of experts and academics after a welcome and introduction by Eugenio Giani, president of the Tuscan regional council.
On November 1, 1501, Vespucci’s ship arrived in a bay of what is now Brazil. He named the cove Todos Santos (“All Saints”) not just after the date of his arrival but also in honour of his family’s roots in the neighbourhood and church of Ognissanti in Florence. Vespucci was the first European to set foot in the New World who realised that it was an uncharted continent and not part of India, as Christopher Columbus had believed. As the official discoverer of Estado de Amazonas, Rio Grande do Norte, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia, Espírito Santo, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, it seems appropriate to pay tribute to Vespucci for his groundbreaking journey to Brazil, which shaped world history. After all, not many people have not one but two continents named after them, stretching from the Arctic to the Antarctic.
Bahía de Todos Os Santos has been twinned with Florence since 1991, and the Tuscan city is home to a sizeable Brazilian community. Suse Oliveira is the head of the Brasiliani nel mondo (Brazilians in the World) association, and with Leonel Ribeiro, the governmental promoter of the project, Oliveira has worked hard to obtain a hearing in Florence, joining forces with the Amerigo Vespucci a Casa Sua and Fiorentini nel Mondo associations, both of which have long been involved in promoting events in Italy and abroad to remember this Florentine hero.