A small Italian town has the secret of longevity: 10 of its inhabitants have already exceeded 100 years

Vittorio Lai, one of the 100-year-old inhabitants of the Perdasdefogu village located in southeastern Sardinia.

A small town in Italy set an unprecedented world record for longevity by recording 10 inhabitants aged 100 or older.

Vittorio Lai, nicknamed Pistol, was the last person from Perdasdefogu to celebrate his centenary, a man who despite his advanced age still drives and hunts wild boar.

Vittorio celebrated his birthday last Saturday, but this week he will be joined by another centenarian just as or more lively than him, Piuccia Lai, who despite sharing his surname is not related.

Piuccia, a lovely old lady who lives her life between Perdasdefogu and Milan, where her children are and where she regularly travels, is the tenth person from the town of 1,765 inhabitants to turn 100.

Sardinia has been identified as one of five world regions that have high concentrations of people that have overshadowed the century milestone. There are 534 people on the entire island who are 100 years old or older, or 33.6 per 100,000 population.

But Perdasdefogu, a village tucked away high in the rugged mountains of southeastern Sardinia, accessible only by a narrow winding road, is unique in that the number of centenarians in a village its size is 16. times higher than the national average.

“The presence of 10 centenarians confirms the exceptional longevity of the inhabitants of Perdasdefogu and raises the bar even higher”, Luisa Salaris, professor of demography at the University of Cagliari, told The Guardian.

Perdasdefogu rose to fame in 2012 when the Melis family, made up of nine brothers and sisters, entered the Guinness World Records as the oldest living siblings on Earth, with a combined age of 818 years.

The oldest citizen of the city to date is Consolata Melis, the oldest of the brothers, who died in 2015, at the age of 108. Antonio Brundu, who turns 104 in March, is the oldest current resident.

Vittorio Lai earned his nickname after killing his first boar at the age of 13. “I took the rifle from my father, the head of the hunting party,” he told La Nuova Sardegna newspaper in an article written by historian Giacomo Mameli. “In those days, hunting saved the people from hunger.”

Italian town broke a world record by registering 10 centenarian inhabitants
Vittorio Lai turned 100 years old on Saturday, February 12.

Usually, the whole town gathers to commemorate the 100th birthday, but due to coronavirus restrictions, Lai celebrated by inviting family and a few friends to lunch. He said that he has worked “hundreds” of jobs in his life. “I was a shepherd, farmhand, warehouse worker and cook, but without knowing how to cook”. His wife, Maria, is 97 years old. “She wanted to be a nun”, Lai said. “So I said, ‘Okay, then I’ll become a priest or a friar.'”

Piuccia Lai celebrates her birthday on February 21 in Milan, where she will meet the mayor, Giuseppe Sala. “I have lived through hunger and war, during fascism and democracy”, she said, adding that she had voted as a woman for the first time on June 2, 1946 and had known 10 popes, although she was born shortly after the death of Benedict XV, meaning she has been alive for eight papacies.

Several scientists have studied Perdasdefogu, cWith explanations for the city’s longevity that range from clean air and active lifestyles to a diet rich in fresh vegetables. Piuccia said she never leaves the table on a full stomach, eats little meat and drinks little coffee.

For Mameli, the key is the town’s sense of community. “He is very united; there are some exceptions, but we all love and take care of each other.”


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