The (Italian) Secrets of Old Age

Acciaroli is a small village in Southern Italy that seems to have discovered the secret to an old age. In the village and its surrounding are, there are over 300 centenarians!

This is such a startling number that the San Diego University together with Rome’s La Sapienza University have started a research project aimed at, you guessed it, discovering the secret to an old age.

Since the research project was just in its infancy, I decided it was best to ask the locals what they thought was the reason.

Antonio Vassallo, 101 years old, told me the secret was the clean sea air that the locals, many of whom are fishermen, breathe every day. There might be others factors too, I learned after chatting with Antonio. For example, he never watches TV, but prefers instead to socialize and play cards with his friends. He goes for long walks and has worked the fields and fished his whole life.


And, he has a younger wife, the 93-year-old Amina.

She believes the secret is food and wine. They have a glass or two of wine every day, and eat a lot of local herbs, vegetables, legumes and whole grain cereals. In fact, the term Mediterranean Diet was coined in a nearby town by a visiting American scientist.

Amina is also into poetry. She’s working on her latest poetry book, but needs to choose the best ones from among the 500 poems she has already written.

Researchers are also looking at why common illnesses associated with old age, such as Alzheimers and cardiovascular diseases, are virtually absent in the area.

I produced TV and radio stories for the Finnish national TV, as well as an online article with photos.

Here’s a link to the story (in Finnish): http://yle.fi/uutiset/3-8868419