Spoiler alert: Christopher Columbus was NOT Italian
Both sets of my grandparents emigrated to this country in the early part of the 20th century from Italy. My father's side is from Calabria and on my mother's side is from Sicily.
In 2001, I was able to find and reconnect with my Italian relatives on my father's side. It was an amazing, life changing and moving experience for my family. I am extremely proud on my grandparent's sacrifices and unimaginable strength and determination to get to this country and provide us with a better life.
That having been said, I want you to know I have no axe to grind with Italy or Italians. I love visiting there as much as I can. There are many great Italians I admire besides my grandparents, Enrico Fermi, Guglielmo Marconi, Garibaldi, Pavarotti, just to name a few. Christopher Columbus is not one of them, although I admire him greatly as well.
He was a courageous and passionate explorer who made great contributions to the western world. He was a Spanish Jew whose parents moved to Genoa shortly before his birth. Genoa at the time was a city/state and an independent republic at the time around 1450, some 410 years before the formation of what is now Italy. Then you could also make the argument that Michelangelo or Da Vinci weren't Italian either since Italy didn't become a county until 1861.
The difference being their families were from there, they spoke the native language of the day and they were immersed in the local society that would later become Italy. Columbus was anything but that. The fact that he was born in Genoa is a minor footnote and does not define him in any way whatsoever.
How we have come to know the version of Columbus that we are familiar with today is puzzling. The truth is much, much more interesting. This is probably the most concise and comprehensive article detailing the truth about who Columbus was.
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