In Sardinia and pockets of northern Italy, an unusually high population of nonagenarians - and a generous scattering of centenarians - have attracted a well-documented amount of attention from the international scientific community in recent years.
In their quest to find the secret to human longevity, Scientists have gathered DNA samples for analysis, of which there’s been widespread press coverage. Some speculate that this apparent immortality is down to a mediterranean diet rich in fish and olive oil, others cite the hardy genetic makeup of a native people inhabiting the same geographic area for thousands of years, with minimal dilution of their DNA. Meanwhile, the subjects of this scrutiny have their own view. For Emma Morano, just turned 117 and officially the world's oldest person on record, it's all about a diet of raw eggs.
Significantly, Emma's doctor of 27 years was by her side as she celebrated her birthday at home in Piedmont. For Winkworth International, this testifies to an Italian healthcare system with a #2 world WHO ranking and an average life expectancy rated 14th worldwide. A mixed public-private health scheme is provided to all residents and citizens and there is said to be a higher ratio of Doctors per head than any other country around the globe. Indeed, a home visit from your medici is a common feature of Italian life.
So, along with the obvious reasons for moving to Italy - breathtaking countryside, historic cities, incomparable regional cuisine and idyllic Italian property - it seems it really is good for your health too.
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It does defy all accepted advice on healthy living, her doctor of 27 years, Carlo Bava, told AFP news agency: "Emma has always eaten very few vegetables, very little fruit. "When I met her, she ate three eggs per day, two raw in the morning and then an omelette at noon, and chicken at dinner." Despite this, he noted, she seems to be "eternal".