Newly crowned oldest person in the world, 116-year-old Emma Morano, is now believed to be the last surviving person in the world born in the 1800s.
Italian woman Emma Morano inherited the title after the death of previous record holder Susannah Mushatt Jones, who was just a few months older, on Thursday.
I sang in my house, and people on the road stopped to hear me singing. And then they had to run, because they were late and should go to workEmma Morano
Ms Morano was born on 29 November 1899 – four months after Ms Jones, who died in New York.
The world’s media descended on Ms Morano’s home in Verbania, a northern Italian mountain town overlooking Lake Major, yesterday. However, they had to wait until she finished a nap to greet her.
Ms Morano lives in a neat one-room apartment, which she no longer leaves, and is kept company by a caregiver and two elderly nieces.
She attributes her longevity to her unusual diet of raw eggs every day – a diet she’s been on for decades after a sickly childhood. She said she is down to two raw eggs a day and 150 grams of raw steak after a bout of anaemia.
“My father brought me to the doctor, and when he saw me he said ‘Such a beautiful girl. If you had come just two days later, I would have not been able to save you.’ He told me to eat two or three eggs a day, so I eat two eggs a day,” she said. Her physician, Dr Carlo Bava, is convinced there’s a genetic component to Morano’s longevity along with her positive attitude.
“From a strictly medical and scientific point of view, she can be considered a phenomenon,” he said last year, noting that Morano has been in stable, good health for years.
Italy is known for its centenarians – many of whom live on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia – and gerontologists at the University of Milan are studying Morano, along with a handful of Italians over 105, to try to figure out why they live so long.
During a visit last summer, Morano was in feisty spirits, displaying the sharp wit and fine voice that used to stop men in their tracks.
“I sang in my house, and people on the road stopped to hear me singing. And then they had to run, because they were late and should go to work,” she recalled, before breaking into a round of the 1930s Italian love song Parlami d’amore Mariu.
“Ahh, I don’t have my voice anymore,” she lamented.
She married in October 1926 and 11 years later had her only child, who died at the age of six months, and she split from her husband the next year.