‘I’ve Met 10 Popes, From Pius X to Bergoglio’: Small Italian Town Sets Record as 10th Resident Turns 100 | Italy
Vittorio Lai, nicknamed Pistol, still drives and hunts wild boar, and on Saturday became the last person in Perdasdefogu, a remote mountain town on the Italian island of Sardinia that has set a world record for longevity, to celebrate its 100th anniversary.
He will be joined this week by another playful centenarian, Piuccia Lai (no relation), who doesn’t hesitate to hop on a plane to visit her sons in Milan, bringing the total number of over-100s in the city to 10. city among a population of 1,765.
Sardinia has been identified as one of five regions in the world that have high concentrations of people who have eclipsed the turn of the century. There are 534 people across the island who are 100 or older, or 33.6 per 100,000 population.
But Perdasdefogu, a town nestled in the rugged mountains of southeastern Sardinia accessible only by a narrow, winding road, is unique in that the number of centenarians in a town of its size is 16 times the national average. .
“The presence of 10 centenarians confirms the exceptional longevity of the inhabitants of Perdasdefogu, and raises the bar even higher,” said Luisa Salaris, professor of demography at the University of Cagliari.
Perdasdefogu rose to fame in 2012 when the Melis family of nine siblings entered the Guinness World Records as the oldest living siblings on Earth, with a combined age at the time of 818.
The city’s oldest citizen to date is Consolata Melis, the eldest of the siblings, who died in 2015, aged 108. Antonio Brundu, who turns 104 in March, is the current oldest resident.
Vittorio Lai earned his nickname after killing his first boar when he was 13 years old. “I took the gun from my father, the leader of the hunting party,” he told La Nuova Sardegna newspaper in an article written by historian Giacomo Mameli. “At that time, hunting freed the city from hunger.”
The whole town usually comes together to mark a 100th anniversary, but due to coronavirus restrictions, Lai celebrated by treating her family and a few friends to lunch. He said he had worked “hundreds” of jobs in his life. “I was a shepherd, worker, storekeeper and cook, but without knowing how to cook.” His wife, Maria, is 97 years old. “She wanted to become a nun,” Lai said. “And so I said, ‘OK then, I’m going to become a priest or a brother.'”
Piuccia Lai celebrates her birthday on February 21 in Milan, where she will meet Mayor Giuseppe Sala. “I lived through hunger and war, during fascism and democracy, and I voted as a woman for the first time on January 2, 1946,” she said. “I met 10 popes, from Pius X to Bergoglio.”
Several scientists have studied Perdasdefogu, with explanations for the city’s longevity ranging from clean air and active lifestyles to a diet rich in fresh vegetables. Lai said he never left the table with a full stomach, ate little meat and drank little coffee.
For Mameli, the key is the city’s sense of community. “It’s very close-knit; there are some exceptions, but we all love and care for each other.