Saturday, March 13, 2010

From Italy to Cape Verde - 550 Years. A biographical study of navigator Antonio de Noli

Article commemorating the Cape Verde discoveries of 1460 by Genoese navigator Antonio de Noli, the first European governor in Subsaharian Africa.

The President of the Antonio de Noli Academic Society, Prof. Marcello Ferrada-Noli,  and Cape Verde
Ambassador to Italy Jose Eduardo Barbosa. City of Noli, Liguria, 28/2 2010 (*)

The Republic of Cape Verde - which become independent from Portuguese rule in 1975 - is about to celebrate the 550 anniversary of its historic foundation as a Capeverdian nation. The first set of islands of the Cape Verde Archipelago was discovered by the Genoa-born nobleman and navigator Antonio de Noli in 1460. He was appointed the first Governor of Cape Verde by the Portuguese King Afonso V [1].

[All images in this post would enlarge by Clicking on]

Discoveries and governorship
 Navy Captain Antonio de Noli, a specialist in cartography, left Genoa around 1450 together with his brother Bartholomew (a lawyer in Genoa) amid a political conflict of the nobility factions in dispute for the Genoa government. Previous alliances of the de Noli, for instance the one with the Casa Fieschi years ago under the rule of Duke of Guarco (see below), had compromised their stand in Genoa by 1450. The brothers de Noli obtained political asylum in Portugal, however there are historic reports that they first went to Sevilla, in Spain [25]. In Portugal, Captain Noli took navy commitments for the exploration of West Africa on behalf of Prince Enrico El Navegante.

In their way to exile from Genoa, the brothers de Noli armed a small naval expedition of three vessels and apparently they did not set sail from Genoa it self but from the Port of Noli, or alternatively from Voltri. These harbours are located some 70 (Noli), respectively 20 (Voltri) kilometers from Genoa. Solely the political situation for the brothers de Noli in Genoa would be a sufficient reason explaining that they would have sailed from elsewhere. In addition, there are indications that the Port of Genoa was at the time not operative. For instance, it is an historic fact that a mayor Genoese navy expedition which took part in the Barcelona war of 1466 also sailed from the port of Noli.

After his discoveries in Cape Verde, Captain Antonio Noli and his brother Bartholomew began the first settlements of the - at the time - uninhabited Cape Verde Islands, bringing population from both Portugal and continental Africa. The latest both in captivity cohorts, as slaves, and in lesser number as free Africans. He also initiated the sugar and cotton plantations in Cape Verde [26] which would constitute the main section of his overseas fortune. In true, the Santiago Island even became an important center of the infamous slave trade in the Atlantic communications of Portugal [27].

The role of Governor Antonio Noli in the slave trade deserves further research, as it has become clearer that its organization had its site in the central government of Portugal and not in the Colonial local government of Cape Verde, in hands of the Italian de Noli. Further, the Portuguese Ultramar occupations  at the time of King Alfoso V comprised besides the Atlantic possessions also colonies in the Indian ocean, in command of Viceroy Afonso de Albuquerque [picture down]. The slave trade was instead a transcontinental operation  [picture above a Portuguese ship of the epoch] aimed to partly serve labour force for agricultural exploitation in the all extended kingdom, and for international trade. This praxis apparently continued after the formal decreasing of the slavery as a system of production [28]. For instance, as late as in 1864, the central government of Portugal demanded by bando real (royal decree) upon the Governor of Cape Verde the obligation of transporting one thousand individuals to the Islands of Santo Tome and Principe "by using for those ends all means of persuasion"[29].

Acculturation issues and the contributory role of de Noli
The fact the Cape Verde Islands were not inhabited prior the Europeans' arrival (Italian and Portuguese), added the fact that the population of the islands became successively integrated with cohorts taken - vastly more by force rather than by own will – from both Portugal and vicinity West Africa, poses interesting cultural-identity issues.

As a main bulk of Africans in the origins of Cape Verde had been made slaves by the Europeans through capture after battle or by trade with third parties, in either way they were cut off from Africa mainland [30]. Ulterior generations under the slavery system did not have the possibility of acquire the –as such - cultural African heritage in situ. I mean, the only cultural Afro-environment of these individuals was apparently reduced to family internal tradition keeping.

The above situation made the acculturation process (the cultural interaction with the pioneer Europeans) a paramount factor in the cultural-identity development of the Capeverdians. The dialectical cultural synthesis of this process it is also accompanied by the ethnic development of the successive population in Cape Verde as remained nowadays.

Further, a Creole culture developed in Cape Verde in the context of the ethnic mixture of African and European descendants. It is worthy to note that these familiar relationships between African and Europeans, and the cultural expressions thus created, were opposed  - at least officially - by the colonial government of Cape Verde. However, some landowners (as it was apparently the case of Bartholomew de Noli, brother of the navigator), official personalities, and “even priests in high positions who lived together with female slaves”,
opposed with their praxis the colonial line thus contributing to the development of the Creole culture in Cape Verde [31] .

Analyzing this original Capeverdian acculturation process it would fair to assume that the Europeans a) by being in power and control of the prevalent ideological and cultural institutions and their implementing apparatuses, and b) by had imported native populations left without cultural links with their original social environment, thus succeeded in Cape Verde in a stronger fashion than they did in mainland Africa in modifying the acculturation process on their European behalf. This was successively developed during the long epoch of colonization, and in correspondence - to a certain extent - with the development of the system of values in the their own Colonial nations.

In sum, the forced deprivation of a natural African cultural environment forced also ideologically the non-European population of Cape Verde to fill the “cultural vacuum” of traditional uses in their communities with culturally imposed European values. This cultural-anthropology development, indeed towards an ideological and cultural-values replacement, would be for the reasons above more markedly in Cape Verde as compared with other nations in Africa. On the other hand, the development of the Creole culture would be also regarded as a response to the supremacist cultural policy prevalent under colonial rule.

Note that I am not making an axiological assessment with regard to this phenomenon, as in the base, no culture as such in the world would ever be able to probe of being superior vs. inferior to any other. This although the political system they might represent can be regarded - with sound moral ground - as unjust and oppressive.

Yet, the analysis here poses also the question as whether Capeverdians might be in their final cultural equation – by their particular historical development – more open to understand Europe or more prone to interact with Europeans. If so, the possible contribution of the Italian Antonio de Noli in the bridge of the two continents perhaps would have yet another dimension.

Noli's explorations and the vipers enigma in the coat of arms
Antonio de Noli had in previous years, and in the company of his son, explored territories of Guinea [32] in Continental Africa, and up to the coast of Senegal, which comprises Gambia, and possibly down to Sierra Leone [33] (the distance between his site in Cape Verde and the Senegal coast is only of 353 nautical miles). A very ancient map which was forwarded to me by Professor Marcel Balla, indicates a point in the coast named on the map Nuova Genova ("New Genua"). This, amid otherwise solely African names indicating on the map the rest of the spots in the all large region covered. It is most likely that it was from these territories he adopted the singular figures of the two vipers - typical for the territories along that coast - embedded in the later found coat of arms of the de Noli, and which otherwise bears the common base colours of Noli and Genova (red and white in alternate distribution of bands and field).

The features of snakes in the Noli coat of arms, short and coloured grey-blue (see below), correspond well to either the short viper Forest night (causus lichtensteinii), the blue-lipped sea snake (lauticauda lauticaudata) or the water snake, all of these present in the coast sections and territories in West Africa explored by Antonio de Noli, his son, and navy troop.

In a period of high influence of the Roman Catholic Church in Church in Europe, particularly in Italy, their dislike with regard to the use of serpents as symbols (see below) in family arms put at first doubts on whether the observed manuscript-figures in the Noli arms corresponded to actual snakes, or if they would represent something else. The "eel hypothesis" was then put forward [34] on the grounds of being eels a central comodity in the food market in the vicinity of locations inhabited at the time by the Noli. E.g. the Noli inhabited in the fourteen hundreds the Cameriano Castle [35] near Novara and Vigevano, in the vicinities of the Po, and where a high seasonal concentration of eels is still found. However, a manuscript discovered in Cesena by Archeology Dr. Carla Rosetti at the Section of Antique Research and Conservation at the Malatestiana Library, distinctly revealed the identification of vipers in the text describing the Noli coat of arms ("Fassa rossa con due vipere in campo bianco") [36].

A contributing rationale bases in the following assumptions taken from heraldic. Lazy noblemen who mostly remained in the comfort of their properties fancied their coat of arms with figures of all kind, even flowers or small birds, etc. Further, for noblemen wich participated in tournaments or even in battles against their counterparts of other territories, the figures in the coat of arms would appeal to invincibility or protection (e.g. the cross or other religious symbols). However, for those committed to the enterprises of exploring terra ignota and conquering it by the sword, the main purpose of the coat of arms ornament was to try producing fear among an unknown brave and ferocious enemy. The warriors of Guinea would not be deterred by the sight of a cross, for them innocuous, or of a depicted innocent bird. But they would fear the most dangerous among the animals in their habitat, as the surviving Antonio de Noli had certainly understood.

And it was yet odd of de Noli to chose vipers, if not defiant. As I mentioned above, serpents and snakes on family arms were of extremely rare in Italian heraldic at the time. The Church stand regarding using symbols associated in the Bible interpretations with "demon" entities (e.g. serpent in the garden [37]), was also interpreted as implied in such important texts as the Book of Revelation [38]. On the other hand, the stand of the brothers de Noli against the Church in Cape Verde is legendary. For instance, history chronicles report that "o genovez Bartolomeu de Noli" (the brother of Governor Antonio de Noli)  had the first Franciscan fray in mission at Cape Verde - Fr. Rogerio, "fundador do primitivo convento de S. Bernardino"- assassinated in 1466 because the fray opposed that de Noli' "lived  in sin" with a concubine in non married terms, and therefore had advised her - during confession - lo leave Bartolomeo de Noli "e voltasse para o reino" (return to  Portugal) [see Note A] [39].

A replica of the above mentioned coat of arms - a coloured manuscript preserved at the Istituzione Biblioteca Malatestiana
in Cesena - was granted to me together with a written personal authorization for me and my family's private use [picture above]. This honourable gesture of Biblioteca Malatestiana, highly significant for our family of De Noli descendants, took place in occasion of one of the visits I had to this prestigious institution (founded 1452, and oldest in Italy) some years ago.

The navigator's family origin and fate
According to manuscripts of Genoa, the family de Noli - to which Antonio de Noli belonged - had its ancient roots in the Antica Republicca Marinara Noli, the City and castle of Noli [40]. The family had moved to Genoa not later that around 1250, judging from the fact that Antonio's ancestor, Giacomo de Noli, was appointed member of the Twelve-Elderly Council in the government of Genoa by the Duke Nicholas de Guarco in 1382 [41], and even earlier (1261), another member of the Noli family was appointed Councelor ("Consiglieri de la Signoria") in the Genoa government [42]. However, the de Noli families of both Genoa and Lombardia (formerly in Novara) had its common genealogical roots in the territory of Noli.

On occasion of the Lusitanian-Hispanic war at the times de Noli was governor of Cape Verde, these islands were conquered and occupied by the Spaniards. The Italian Antonio de Noli remained however Governor of Cape Verde. This did not please the Portuguese, which, after the Treaty of Alcacovas-Toledo 1479 took again possession of the Cape Verde Islands. It is unclear what really happened with Antonio de Noli and his son during this period. The governorship did not go automatically to his daughter Branca de Aguiar as it is believed in many historiography constellations. What really happened in this regard was that the King of Portugal offered the actual governorship to the nobleman in his court who wished to marry Antonio's daughter [43]. The purpose of this was double fold; on the one hand the Colonial government of Portuguese Cape Verde should be at the hands of a Portuguese national, in the main preventing the situation occurred during the past war with the Spaniards. On the other, the Noli sugar plantations would become by marital terms a property of the Portuguese. Eventually, this was later consummated through the marriage of Branca with Dom Jorge Correa de Sousa, fidalgo da casa real.

However the new treaty of 1479, the Portuguese  Alfoso V would expect  new clashes with Spain, as it has been now and then since his grandfather João I defeated  the Spaniards at large in  the battle of Aljubarrota of 1385 [picture below]. 

 Portuguese and Spaniards battle in Aljubarrota 1385

On the base of the situation it was the displeasure of the King because of Governor de Noli - "The Genoese" or "Antonio Genosese" as he was then referred [44] - had accepted to continue as governor of Cape Verde under the flag of the Spaniards. The long period comprised from the moment the king decided not to count any longer with Antonio Noli, until the ending of all the processes of finding and implementing the multiple solutions (solution for the governorship, the issue of daughter Branca's dote (dowry), formalizing at government and further announcing in the court, the process of finding the suitable fidalgo [nobleman] for both the post and as husband of Branca de Aguiar. Fidalgo which besides had to be a bachelor within the noble families regarded as trusted allies to the Royal House, and not many were at the time. The voyages back and forward Portugal/Cape Verde, 3 230 nautical miles! The preparing and implementing of the wedding, and finding also a solution for the possible future of Antonio de Noli himself and for the rest of his family, etc. And all above amid thousand other time consuming matters the King had to deal with) would be any time between the aftermath of the Portuguese retaken of Cape Verde from the Spaniards in the 1480's and the signing of carta regia 1497 [45]. During those years must had Antonio de Noli and the rest of his family taken the decisions as to where to go in the future. However, to the best of my knowledge, no Portuguese record exists whatsoever about them during this period.

It is said that Antonio de Noli - whose demise whereabouts remain unknown - went transitorily with his fortune of solid gold to Spain. It is a plausible explanation that he would have anew sought shelter in Seville, as it is reported he did previously his Cape Verde discoveries. Besides, as mentioned above, the Noli were banned from Genoa and at the times that the Genoa government prepared war with Barcelona (hostilities initiated 1466). A factual-based aspect in the background of this situation is that navigator Antonio de Noli had previously been taken prisoner by Spaniards (Castilians). These asked Genoa to pay a ransom for Antonio Nolis's liberation, which the Genoa government refused [46]. I mention this in the context of the prevalent political situation still hostile for the De Noli in Genoa, to which adds the no-where-to-go for the Noli in the Iberia peninsula by the end of the fourteen hundreds.

Antonio de Noli descendants
The above situation helps to explain why Antonio de Noli junior made with the remaining family his way to Italy but avoiding Genoa. The decision of the Noli was taken during the period described above and a manuscript in the Malatestiana Library helps to locate the happening around 1490 [47]. For the known reasons for avoiding Genoa, they sailed instead to Rimini (Cesena's port), arriving in Cesena, also a city in northern Itlay and where old-timer allies Fieschi (also banned from Genoa) had established themselves in positions of influence. In Cesena, the son of Antonio Noli, Simone, married into the family Biondi, also nobles of the time. And the Noli used their Cape Verde gold to acquire posts in the Consiglio di Cesena. The first of the Noli recorded in Cesena as member of the Council is the above mentioned son of Antonio Noli - Simone de Antonio Noli Biondi - already in 1505 [48].

The purchasing with gold of the seats in the Council of Cesena is well documented in the manuscripts of Istituzione Biblioteca Malastestiana, which for instance reveal that descendant Antonio Noli of "Traggia" [elsewhere refered also as "Teglia" [49], a place in Northern Genoa] also became Council member in 1551 (as it did previously Simone de Antonio Noli Biondi in 1505), and that he became a member of the Cesena Council by paying “150 D’oro” to the City of Cesena [50]. Yet another descendant, also given the name Antonio de Noli (Antonio de Noli Biondi), became in those years (1556) a member of the Cesena Council. This Antonio de Noli ended however his commitments in Cesena a short period thereafter, in 1558 [51]. In fact, the whole de Noli-Biondi family became at those times reported estinta (extinct) in Cesena, as it is manifested in a manuscript found by Archeology Dr. Carla Rosetti in 2008 [52]. Where did the de Noli go, and why, an how?

By the end of the 1550's the political panorama in Genoa had changed in favor of the Noli and they seized the opportunity of returning safe to their homeland. The last descendant of the navigator in Cesena, as mentioned before also given the name Antonio de Noli, appeared thus for the first time at the epoch - and in a a role as elderly father - in a manuscript of 1587 found in Valleregia Church (Serra Riccò, in Northern Genoa) [53].

The de Noli lived then anew in Genoa territory, and habited a distinct place still signaled with the name NOLI in the maps of the hamlet. In this very place [Google map below-right] was born my grandfather Vittorio Noli the 24 of April of 1881 [picture at left], and he was also baptized - as it did his ancestors de Noli all along since 1587, at the same Parrocchia della Nativita de Maria S.S. in Valleregia. In the map (blue circle) it can be also observed that the location "Teglia" - named above regarding the Cesena manuscripts in conjunction with Antonio de Noli 1554 - is situated only some kilometers distance from their new Genoa settlement ("Noli", in the map). When I visited first time this location Teglia - in June 1974 - lived still there a de Noli descendant, namely Luigia Noli, sister of Vittorio Noli. The manuscripts that contain the birth records documenting their direct lineage in the family de Noli can be seen in The de Noli descendants. Most of the ancient manuscripts - the Valleregia manuscripts [54] - were found in a research activity of Dr. Ilaria Brigati.

 With the Mayor of Genoa Serra Riccò Dr. Andrea Torre

The way back home
The route made by the de Noli in their emigration back to North Genoa was not problematic to find out. They used the road which at that time connected directly Rimini (Cesena's port, in Latin Ariminum) with North Genoa, via Placentia (Piacenza). The road Rimini-Piacenza existed since the Roman times - in fact ordered by Consul Marco Emilio Lepido 187 B.C. - and it was called Via Aemilia (Via Flaminia Aemilia Postuma) [map below left]. In Piacenza they would have taken Via Aemilia Scauri in the direction to Dertona (Tortona), where they met descendants of friend family Frascaroli. The Frascaroli were at the time Signori at the region, and several Valleregia manuscripts on family events around the epoch indicates the association between these two families [55]. Finally, from Dertona down to North Genoa province following the Aemilia Scauri. Coming down from Tortona, the Noli site in Valleregia is found some twenty kilometers before Genoa.

Patriotic VS. Historical theses

The Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, Roma, 1925, 1965) is clear on the issue of the place of birth of Antonio de Noli: "Born in Genoa of a family with origins from Noli" ("Nacque a Genova da famiglia di origine nolese").

Accordingly, all along  since the publication in Venice  1562 of the classic "Asia" of de Barros, written 1539 [2] [see below] until the beguining of XX century,  it has been of public knowledge that the place of birth of Antonio de Noli is Genoa. As late as 1894, Prospero Peragallo - one most distinguished Italian historian - referred to the navigator as Genovese and as "Noli" (not "da" Noli) [3].

However, this was challenged during a period some decades ago, after the publication of  Bernardo Gandoglia's book "In Repubblica" in 1926 [4], focused on the history of the City of Noli. The local Gandoglia launched the thesis (tesi pattriotica) that the navigator "Da Noli" was "Nolese" (born in Noli), and , according to Emanuele Diotto [5], the emphasis in the Gandoglia's argument is particularly based in the "Da" which would denote the navigator's birth  (in the Republica of Noli).  This is in turn an argument  taken directly from Giovanni Delscalzo's "Antonio da Noli" (1943). But neither this author indicated any  verifiable source for such affirmation. He mentioned a certain birth certificate containing the particle "da" before "Noli" but referred no information where the document was, or where he would have seen it in original or replica, or heard about it, etc. [see Note B]. Further bibliographic references on this topic (biographers or authors of history books  that also would state that  the navigator Noli was born in Noli) is neither given by authors Gandoglia or Diotto  I have asked personally in Noli City, in formal meetings of 2005 and 2008, both to high Municipality authorities or Church officials in Noli for the whereabouts of this document - the birth or baptism certificate mentioned by Diotto/Gandoglia or any other that could show the origin of Antonio Noli in the City of Noli. But after five years I am still waiting for their answer. Now to the tesi storica:

João de Barros, the most prominet among the Portuguese historians of the epoch - generally referred in the literature in terms of "the most trustworthy historian of the Portuguese voyages" [6]-  explicitly reported that Antonio de Noli was “di natione genovese, et di sangue nobile" (Genoese of noble blood) [7].   As the official King's historian, Barros had access by 1539 [8] to the very documents which had appointed Captain de Noli in the  official exploration enterprises and later entitled him in the governorship, as well as other members of  the de Noli family.  Barros had even the possibility to meet explorers, navy officers  and government officials that had met Antonio Noli personally. Further, countless books and history research articles on the subject of Italian  intercontinental discoveries have contributed with details confirming  this report of being Genoa the original nation of Antonio de Noli.

With regard to the name "de Noli" (instead of "da" Noli), of particular interest are two sources. One is based on accounts from 1462, at the very epoch of the de Noli in Cape Verde, and which is preserved in chronicles of the Franciscan Order. In this chronicle (O Covento de S. Bernardino. Apontamentos. A Fialho d'Almeida)  referring to Antonio de Noli's brother Bartholomew, it is distinctly stated both that his family  name was "de Noli" and that he was a "Genovez" [9].

Another is the testimony of Sir Richard Francis Burton - British consul and famous explorer, discoverer of Tanganyika Lake. He had grown up in Italy and later served as British consul in Trieste. As erudite in  languages and geography history, he knew well the Italian discoveries in Africa [plaque at Trieste, Italy, at the right]. Burton visited  the Island  of Antonio de Noli in 1865 and based much information directly from their inhabitants. In his "Letter V. Cape Verde Islands" [10] Burton explicitly states all the names by which the commander was  known (Antonio de Nola, or Nolles, Nolle, and Noli) but not one mention  to "da Noli".

And to the documented facts:
During a research visit to Genoa in 2008 I personally documented an  ancient manuscript I found in the Genoa library ("Famiglie Di Genova. Antiche, e Moderne, Estinte, e Viventi, Nobili, e Populari") which in "Parte II, D.E.F.G.I.L.M.N.O./ MDCCLXXXIII", page 293,   refers to Antonio Noli  as "Peritissimo Piloto Genovese. Fui il primo che scoperse le Isole di Capoverde". Also the manuscript mentions just before - in the same paragraph - other members of the family de Noli as been since much earlier date (1382) in Genoa ("Giacomo de Noli fui un de XII-Anziani del Comune sotto il Duce Nicolas de Guarco") , and even continues immediately after the entrie on Antonio Noli by documenting "Continua in Genova la famiglia de Noli in molto ricchi et onorati. . .oltre varÿ altri Nobili Noli" [11].  

Other international historicians and researches indicating that the place of birth of Antonio Noli is Genoa are for example  Dumoriez (1762) [12], Thomas (1860) [13], Hamilton (1975) [14], Diffie and Winius (1977) [15], Irwin and Wilson (1999) [16]. And other notable authors which manifestly give the proper family de Noli, instead for otherwise, are for instance Du Perier (1797) [17], Grande Enciclopédia Portuguesa (1935) [18], Eannes de Azurara (1841) [19], Historical Section of the Foreign Office (1920) [20], Bailey and Winius (1477) [21], Nowel (1952) [22], Verlinden (1963) [23], in other words, in  "most history or geographic books, including ancient chronics, or encyclopedia" [24].

So, that much for Gandoglia's thesis, which can be summarized:

"The  proof  that the name is Antonio da Noli is that he was born in Noli,
and the  proof  that  he was born in Noli is that the name was Antonio da Noli" 

The fact is that there is no "da Noli" family in either Noli or Genoa, neither a single documented record identifying  a person from ancient, modern or contemporary times with that family name. If Antonio was "da Noli", some form of documented trace of some other da Noli would have been found in Italy. One explanation of the use of the name Da Noli referring to the navigator might consist in a  fortuite translation  of "de" to "da" from the Italian into Portuguese and which was later in Noli City associated with the navigator's birth place. But that would have been before that the evidence of the family de Noli existence in Genoa and Northern Italy became public knowledge. The manuscript here below from 1509 is about the daughter of Bartolomeo de Noli. I found this manuscript in Genoa 2009.

Genoa manuscript of 1509 mentioning Bartolomeo de Noli 's daughter


[A] Judging from the present situation to this regard in Cape Verde, Bartholomew de Noli advocating for more simple adult relationships - without the intervention of the Church or other wedding formalities -  gained finally terrain. In fact, the site in  its description of nowadays Cape Verde, states the following:

"On the Cape Verde Islands we find the peculiarity of men and women living together without being officially married, and this has existed for several centuries. Men and women have always had children from different relationships. There are some special ways of living together: the most common way is living together without a marriage certificate in the so called “união de facto” which is equated by law to marriage after three years of living together." [56]

[B] As the name Antonio da Noli bears the assumtion he would have born in Noli, vice versa, it is assumed that he was born in Noli because his name would be Antonio da Noli (as da would denote procedence). Emanuele Diotto, in Antonio da Noli e la scoperta delle isole del Capo Verde quotes City of Noli historian Bernardo Gandoglia as referring the existence of a birth document with the name Antonio da Noli. In fact this was put forward also by G. Descalzo in his "Antonio  da Noli"  in which states "La fede di nascita del nostro navigatore ci è per fortuna conservata nella particella da che va unita al suo nome, e se il lettore vuole conoscere la verità, guardi con quanta premura i predetti scrittori genovesi danno il frego a questa povera particella." However there is no indicated reference or source for such document. The serious question remains, where is that fede di nascita?, who has ever seen it? Where are the other members of the "Da Noli" family in Noli, or for that part in the whole Italy during these 550 years?

"Cosi si crede". Further, in his book In Repubblica, in a brief mention to Antonio Noli, Gandoglia writes ″il nostro Antonio (cosi si crede) ò a Genova, ove piu tarde si trovò compromesso nelle fazione fra gli Adorno e i Fregoso″. Further, the original reports on Antonio da Noli, as indication of locus-origin, may as well have referred to the hamlet of Noli in Northern Genoa province (La frazione di Noli al comune di Serra Ricco), then a site of the de Noli family (1916. 696 pages) Bernardo Gandoglia refers the issue of Antonio Noli being from Noli as ″so it is believed″ 


[1] Carta regia (royal letter) of September 19, 1462. In Bailey W. Diffie & George D. Winius, "Foundations of the Portuguese Empire 1415-1580". University of Minnesota Press, 1977. Page 106 
[2] Barros, João. "L’Asia", Dec. I. lib. 2. cap. I. Republished by Vincenzo Valgrisio, Venice, 1562.
[3] "...spianare gli ardui problemi cosmografici e geografici che si presentavano, i genovesi Antonio, e Bartolomeo Noli. . .e il veneziano Luigi di Cà da Mosto". In Peragallo Prospero (1894) "Disquisizioni Colombine. N.i 2 e 3. Epoca dell' arrivo di Colombo in Portogallo / La Sfera di Dante de Rinaldi, e il sig. Harrisse. Tipografia Nazionale, Lisbona. Page 79
[4] Gandoglia (1919). "In Reppublica" (696 pages)
[5] Emanuele Diotto, Antonio da Noli e la scoperta delle isole del Capo Verde [here]
[6] "Barros, the most trustworthy historian of the Portuguese voyages, (Asia, chap.2. and 3.) whose works comes down to 1539, and who had before him relations of the discoveries made by hos countrymen". In: Spotorno, Giovanni Battista "Historical Memoir of Christopher Columbus and His Discoveries". Treuttel and Wurtz, London, 1823. Page xxiii.
Professor Dr. Giovanni Battista Spotorno adds (page xxv) that Antonio Noli was "fellow citizen" of Christopher Columbus. 
[7] Barros, João. "L’Asia", Dec. I. lib. 2. cap. I. Republished by Vincenzo Valgrisio, Venice, 1562. Barros stated on Antonio di Noli: “di natione genovese, et di sangue nobile, che per alcuni dispiaceri che hebbe nella patria sua se ne venne in questo regno con due navi. ..”
Further sources of older as well as modern research history books indicating Genoa as the place of birth of Antonio de Noli, likewise his real name as de Noli instead of da Noli, are found in the English Encyclopedia article on Antonio Noli published by Wikipedia. Link here.

[9] "Occidente. Revista Illustrada de Portugal e do Extrangeiro". 16.¤ Anno -XVI Volume - N.¤ 515. Page 85  
[10] Sir Richard Burton. From London to Rio de Janeiro. Letters to a Friend. Letter V. Cape Verd Islands. Page 496
[11] "Famiglie Di Genova. Antiche, e moderne, estinte, e viventi, nobili, e populari". Parte II, D.E.F.G.I.L.M.N.O./ MDCCLXXXIII. Pages 293-294
[12] Charles François Du Périer Dumouriez, "An account of Portugal, as it appeared in 1766 to Dumoriez. Printed at Lausanne 1775". Law, Debret & Balfour, London, 179. Page 95 
[13]  "(Cape Verde discoveries) Antonio Noli, a Genoese in the service of the Prince of Portugal. In W. Thomas, M.A.,"The West Coast of Africa, And Its Islands". Derby & Jackson, New York, 1860. Page 327 
[14] "The Portuguese, with the aid of Genovese navigator Antonio Noli, discovered the remaining, likewise inhabited, islands of the Cape Verde Archipelago". In Russel G. Hamilton, "Voices from an Empire". University of Minnesota, 1975. Page 233
[15]  Bailey W. Diffie & George D. Winius "Foundations of the Portuguese Empire 1415-1580". Op. cit. Page 111
[16]  "...(Discovered Cape Verde)....More likely, it was the Genoese António de Noli". In Aisling Irwin & Colum Wilson, "Cape Verde Islands". The Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut. Fourth Edition, 2009. Page 6 
[17] Charles François Du Périer Dumouriez, "An account of Portugal, as it appeared in 1766 to Dumoriez. Printed at Lausanne 1775". Law, Debret & Balfour, London, 1797 
[18] The "Grande Enciclopédia Portuguesa" refer to him as Antonio de Noli. Op. cit. Page 836 
[19] "Uso di Mare and Antonio de Noli were to be found in the same employment the connection between...". In Gomes Eannes de Azurara, "The chronicle of the discovery and conquest of Guinea". The Hakluyt Society, London, 1896-1899. Page 300. (Earlier published in Portuguese by Pariz Aillaud 1841) 
[20] Cape Verde Islands. Handbooks prepared under the direction of the Historical Section of the Foreign Office. No. 117. Published by H.M. Stationery Ofice. London, 1920
[21] "A carta regia (royal letter) of September 19, 1462, attributed the discovery of the Cape Verde Islands to the Italian Antonio de Noli". In Bailey W. Diffie & George D. Winius, "Foundations of the Portuguese Empire 1415-1580". University of Minnesota Press, 1977. Page 106 
[22] C.E. Nowel "A History of Portugal". D Van Nostrand Co. New York 1952. Pages 40, 256 
[23] Charles Verlinden, "Antonio de Noli e a colonizaçaão das ilhas de Cabo Verde". Lisboa, 1963
[24] Biographical article on Antonio Noli published by Wikipedia
[25] De Palencia, Alonso. Cronica de Enrique IV. Lib. VI, cap V
[26] Birmingham, David. Trade and Empire in the Atlantic, 1400-1600. Routledge, London, 2000. Pages 19-20
Contarino Sparta, Luciana L. La persistencia de las tensiones identitarias Afroeuropeas: El caso de de la Comunidda de Cabo Verde en La Argentina. Afroeuropa: Journal of Afro-European studies, Vol 1, No 1, 2007
[28] Id.
[29] Palminha Silva, Joaquim. “Emigrason. A diáspora de Cabo Verde”. En: Revista História, Lisboa, Nº 81, Julio 1985, p. 20.
[30] Contarino Sparta, Luciana L. Op. cit
[31] Website (2007), "Cape Verde - Population"
[32] Grande Enciclopédia Portuguesa e Brasileira (ed. 1945), Vol XVIII, p. 836
[33] The exploration of Guinea territories by Antonio de Noli is well documented. However, the exploration of Gambia it might be attributed - instead or also - to Antoniotto Usodimare which is reported had explored Gambia in 1455. One of this reports is the article by Abel Ignacio López Forero "Motivaciones economicas y espirituales de la expansión Europea (Siglo XV)" published in Revista Historia Crítica, N0 6, January-June 1992, pages 59-74
[34] Ferrada-Noli Marcello. De Noli. The Italian Bond
[35] "Castello di Cameriano...Agli inizi del quattrocento il castello - diventato un'importante fortezza - fu amministrato per diversi anni dal marchese Teodoro di Monferrato. In seguito divenne feudo dei "Botigella" e fu abitato da varie famiglie di signori, tra cui i Cattaneo di Cameriano e la famiglia Noli di Novara [Text in the information table "Cameriano e il suo Castello" at the entrance of the Castle. Published by a site of Unione Basso Novarese]
[36] Ferrada-Noli Marcello "The De Noli descendants. Lineage Genoa / Serra Riccò/ Antonio de Noli 1587". Item Nr 7: Cesena manuscripts, manuscript 7
[37] Montenegro, Marcia. The serpent in Egypt and in the Bible: evil, power, and healing, page 3. Published in the site Christian Answers for the New Age.
[38] Harris, Stephen. "Understanding the Bible". Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985 
[39] In "Occidente. Revista Illustrada de Portugal e do Extrangeiro". 16.¤ Anno -XVI Volume - N.¤ 515. Page 85
[40] "L'origine si puó supponere dalla piccola cittá o Castello di Noli". In "Famiglie Di Genova. Antiche, e moderne, estinte, e viventi, nobili, e populari". Parte II, D.E.F.G.I.L.M.N.O./ MDCCLXXXIII. Pages 293-294
[41] Id.
[42] Bollettino della Società geografica italiana, Volym 17. 1880. Page 139: "citase un Noli Anziano e consiglieri della Signoria nel 1261"
[43] Centro de Estudios de História do Atlántico. ILHAS: Uma Síntese Histórica. II Parte: O mundo insular atlántico, 3.Instituições insulares 
[47] Ferrada-Noli Marcello "The De Noli descendants. Lineage Genoa / Serra Riccò/ Antonio de Noli 1587". Item Nr 7: Cesena manuscripts, manuscript 1
[48] Id., manuscript 2
[49] According to a communication from Archeology Dr. Carla Rosetti (at the Section of Antique and Conservation of Biblioteca Malatestiana) I received in 2008, the two hand-writing spelling of "Traggia" or "Treggia rotta" in the Cesena manuscripts could well have denoted instead "Teglia". Teglia is a location in North Genoa and had been inhabited by a Noli family. The place is also near the Noli settlement in Serra Riccò (9 kilometers distance) inhabited by the de Noli family only few years after they left Cesena.
In fact,
none location with the names "Traggia" or "Treggia rotta" was found existing in the Cesena region even exhausting ancient materials. All which, on the other hand, emphasizes the "oriundo" character of the Noli family in Cesena (oriundo means in the context "coming from an outer territory), as it is given manifestly in another Cesena manuscript (manuscript Nr 7).
In turn, the original territory - viewed from the Noli's familiy perspective - was not their "last stop" Cape Verde but instead Northern Genoa.
Once in Cesena, any reference of the de Noli themselves to "Teglia" would only have manifested their distinct notion of a pre Capeverdian, Genoa roots.
My own observation is that "teglia" pronounced in Genoese dialect sound as "treggia" in the Emilia-Romagna Region.
[40] Ferrada-Noli Marcello "The De Noli descendants. Lineage Genoa / Serra Riccò/ Antonio de Noli 1587". Item Nr 7: Cesena manuscripts, manuscript 8
[41] Id., manuscript 11
[42] Id., manuscript 12
[43] Ferrada-Noli Marcello "The De Noli descendants. Lineage Genoa / Serra Riccò/ Antonio de Noli 1586". Item Nr 2: Valleregia manuscripts & birth certificates. Antonio de Noli, 1586. Manuscript 1
[44] Ferrada-Noli Marcello "The De Noli descendants. Op. cit.
[45] Ferrada-Noli Marcello "The De Noli descendants. Lineage Genoa / Serra Riccò/ Antonio de Noli 1587". Item Nr 2: Valleregia manuscripts & birth certificates. Manuscript 3

Marcello Vittorio Ferrada-Noli, 13/3 2010

* Marcello Ferrada-Noli and Cape Verde Ambassador to Italy Jose Eduardo Barbosa 
(at the right in the picture) met in the City of Noli  Mr. Alberto Peuffo, from the local Cultural Association the 27-28 February 2010. My report on the meetings is under revision and I will publish it soon atttached to this post. 

Updatings 18/4 2010:
The Celebration conferences in Genoa Serra Riccò (June 2010) and in the City of Noli (September 2010)

Genoa Serra Riccó

In occasion of a meeting with members of the de Noli descendants in Genoa Serra Riccò the 30th of March 2010, the Antonio de Noli Academic Society and the Ambassador of Cape Verde to Italy held also a meeting with the Mayor of Serra Riccó Dr. Andrea Torre [picture to the left]. Dr. Andrea T. Torre is an historian and also a member of the A de Noli society.

In this meeting it was agreed upon the organization in Valleregia of a commemoration event around the Cape Verde discoveries of navigator Antonio de Noli. This event will take place the 19th of June and in conjunction with the bi-annual Family de Noli descendants.

The Antonio de Noli Academic Society will participate with two presentations and the Embassy of Cape Verde will participate also with some artistic Cape-Verde related contributions.

City of Noli

The City of Noli (Savona) have decided - after an initiative I presented 2009 - to organize an international scholar and cultural conference to commemorate the discoveries of Cape Verde and the foundation role by our ancestor Antonio de Noli, genealogical rooted in the City of Noli.

To the commemorative ends above I had recently a meeting in the city of Noli (Savona, Liguria) with the Ambassador of Cape Verde to Italy, Jose Eduardo Barbosa, and an executive of the City of Noli and the Cultural Foundation (Prof. Alberto Peluffo). Alberto Peluffo was designed as coordinator of the initiative on behalf of the City of Noli.

We met also the City major Sig. Ambrogio Repetto [photo above-right]. We were guests of the City of Noli and the meetings took place in the City Hall 27th and 28th of February. RAI Television was also present and had individual interviews with Ambassador Barroso and myself.

At the City Hall in Noli. Marcello Ferrada-Noli, the Cape Verde Ambassador to Italy Jose Eduardo Barbosa, and Prof. Alberto Peluffo

The cultural event will take place in September 2010 and it will include a conference of international scholars and a variety of cultural events including an art exhibit on the theme Antonio de Noli and Cape Verde.

Some historians of Cape Verde issues and/or biographers of Antonio de Noli that have already adhered its participation in the Conference are for instance Professor Marcel Balla (USA). author of the book Antonio's Island [in picture at the left], Professor Trevor Hall (USA/Jamaica), which made his Ph.D. dissertation at the Johns Hopkins University, 1992: "The Role of Cape Verde Islanders in Organizing and Operating Maritime Trade from West Africa to Iberian Territories, 1441-1616"), Professor Ilidio Baleno (Cape Verde), and M. Ferrada-Noli (Sweden/Italy). We expect as well the participation of Professor Massimo Quaini of the University of Genoa, and other scholars.

The City of Noli will also publish the proceedings of the Conference containing the historiography and biographic papers presented by the attending scholars.

After our meeting in Rome due to May 2010 I will post here the definite programme and participants.

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