Navigator and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, the third son in a cultured family, was born on March 9, 1451, (some scholars say 1454) in Florence, Italy. Although born in Italy, Vespucci became a naturalized citizen of Spain in 1505.
Vespucci and his parents, Ser Nastagio and Lisabetta Mini, were friends of the wealthy and tempestuous Medici family, who ruled Italy from the 1400s to 1737. Vespucci's father worked as a notary in Florence. While his older brothers headed off to the University of Pisa in Tuscany, Vespucci received his early education from his paternal uncle, a Dominican friar named Giorgio Antonio Vespucci.
When Amerigo Vespucci was in his early 20s, another uncle, Guido Antonio Vespucci, gave him one of the first of his many jobs. Guido Antonio Vespucci, who was ambassador of Florence under King Louis XI of France, sent his nephew on a brief diplomatic mission to Paris. The trip likely awakened Vespucci's fascination with travel and exploration.
Sailed under the Spanish flag
He embarked on his first journey, departing from Cadiz with a fleet of Spanish ships. The controversial letter indicates that the ships sailed through the West Indies and made their way to the mainland of Central America within approximately five weeks. If the letter is authentic, this would mean that Vespucci discovered Venezuela a year before Christopher Columbus did. Vespucci and his fleets arrived back in Cadiz in October 1498.
Years of explorations: