Growing old – the Italian way

Growing Old Like the Italians

© Bayda

Emma Morano lives in Pallanza, a city on the west bank of Lake Maggiore in a city with 30,000 inhabitants. She moved there as a child when the family doctor recommended living in a more favourable climate to her parents. Signora Morano was born on 29 November 1899 and is currently the third-oldest person in the world, the second-oldest Italian citizen in history, currently the oldest European and the last remaining European to have been born in the 19th century. Her secret recipe are raw eggs, minced meat, pasta, bananas and leading a happy life as a single woman ever since 1938.


Is growing old a genetic phenomenon?

The verified list of the oldest people in the world, which is still led by French-born Jeanne Calment, who died in 1997 at the age of 122 years and 164 years, features several Italians. According to a recent survey, Italy has the fifth-highest life expectancy in the world with an average of 82.4 years. However, despite contrary belief, the genes only play a subordinate role of approx. 30% in this according to recent studies. The other 70% are determined by the way of living and by environmental influences.

The village of centennials

A “place of eternity”, as it is known in common parlance, can be found between Rome and Naples. Campodimele is a 650-resident village on the Monti Aurunci in the province of Latina. There’s a notable abundance of old people all around the medieval centre of this village located on a karst hill. More than 10% of its inhabitants are 75 and older (in comparison to less than 5% in all of Italy). Campodimele’s senior citizens have been the subject of many studies aiming to solve the mystery of growing old. Beyond the ideal climate, it was striking to see the low blood pressure and low cholesterol levels of the residents.

Exercise and a healthy diet

Why do Italians age particularly well? Campodimele’s inhabitants might have the answer: exercise and a healthy diet. Sounds easy enough, but it works. Even in old age, many residents of the village of centennials still live at home, do all the shopping by themselves and meet up regularly for some chat and gossip enjoying a traditional fare rich in olive oil and a nice glass of red wine.

La Longevita

Meat, salt and butter only play a subsidiary role in the local cuisine. Campodimele´s super senior citizens eat lots of pasta and raw vegetables, more often than not prepared with olive oil, and have a glass or two of red wine – simple fare that you can cook at home an relish in yourself. Then again, spending your holiday in Italy certainly will help your quest to unlock the secret of growing old happily – ZAINOO has the best holidays ideas for finding the key to an eternal live.

By the way, there´s a brand-new large restaurant in Campodimele. La Longevita (“The Longevity”) serves a local delicacy that might offer the key to a long and healthy life: wild peas over mushy pasta made from semolina.

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