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LIVE TO 100, ITALIAN CENTENARIANS

Tzia (aunt in Sardinian) Claudina Melis just celebrated her 100th birthday, cheered by her sisters Consolata, who is 105, and Mafalda, almost 80, the youngest. Together with their siblings Maria, 98; Antonino, 94; Concetta, 92; Adolfo, 90; Vitalio, 87; Fida Vitalia, 81, their combined age reaches a total of 825 years. That is why, in 2012, their family entered the Guinness World Records for having the oldest living siblings on earth. They live in Perdasdefogu, on the island of Sardinia, a region that is at the top of the list of the Italian Centenarian Rate, both for men and women. As a matter of fact, when somebody is celebrating their birthday, it is customary to say “a chent'annos”, which in the Sardinian language means “may you live till you are 100 years old". Studies say that this unusual phenomenon is due to lifestyle and habits more than genetics. Clean air and water, healthy food, walking up and down the steep and narrow roads, truly help. “Between 2001 and 2011, the number of centenarians in Italy rose 138 percent, and that of nonagenarians, or people in their 90s, rose 78 percent. In 2011, the most recent year in the official statistics, 20 percent of Italians were over the age of 65”. (New York Times) It shows that Italian diet and lifestyle are very important for longevity. And Sardinia holds the record because it is a very special place. It could be called the Italian Caribbean for its varied world celebrated coastline but it also has rolling hills, luscious valleys, and steep mountains in the center, its heart. 9,300 square miles with a population of only 1,600,000 . To give you a comparison, the city of Rome has an area of 500 square miles with a population of 2,600,000; Sicily has an area of 10,000 square miles, slightly bigger than Sardinia, and it has a population of 5,000,000. If you want to live to 100, Sardinia is your retirement dreamland. A chent'annos!

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Lysandra