Emma Morano, currently the world’s oldest living person, celebrates her 117th birthday this week. Ms. Morano was born on 29 November 1899 in Italy and is known as the only living person from the 1800s. Morano’s birth year coincided with Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi’s first radio transmission across the English Channel and the founding of what is now known as Italy’s largest automobile manufacturer, Fiat.
Morano is the eldest of eight siblings, born to a family in Civiasco, a small town in Piedmont. She is the oldest living sibling, her younger sister; Angela made it to her 102nd birthday before passing away. Emma’s niece Maria Antonietta Sala now cares for her in her home, a tiny two-room apartment in Verbania, on the shores of Lake Maggiore.
Guinness World Records crowned Morano the oldest person living following the death of former titleholder Susannah Mushatt Jones, who passed away in May.
Morano talks through her diet, which may certainly seem unorthodox and unbalanced to some. In an article celebrating her 115th birthday, Morano said she ate two raw and one cooked egg a day, however she’s since cut down as she thinks three can be “too much.” Morano initially started eating raw eggs during her teens following a doctor’s recommendation in order to counter anaemia.
She maintained the same diet for the past 90 years, consisting of eggs, ground meat, fresh Italian pasta and a banana a day. Her niece Maria said that she has also cut meat out of her diet completely following her belief that it could lead to a tumour. Her doctor, Carlo Bava says that she has excellent health, for which Morano credits her elixir consisting of raw eggs.
Ms. Morano shares more of her secrets to the longevity of her life – believing that being single for the most part of her life has enabled her to live for many years. She was initially engaged in her early twenties, however her husband was called to the front during the First World War and upon leaving never returned. Presuming he had died, Morano married in 1926, however her marriage fell apart following the death of her infant son in 1938, at just 6 months old. Morano said that she was one of the first women in Italy to kick out their husband, as separation was frowned upon until the recent legalisation of divorce in 1970. She later revealed that her marriage had been abusive and she had been blackmailed into marriage at just 26 years old. Since then, Emma explains she has been involved in several courtships, but ultimately decided not to seek marriage – “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone” she says.
Dr. Bava believes her sharp memory and stable health condition is due to the fact Emma is cared for by loved ones. Bava, who has been Morano’s doctor for almost two decades, says
“The secret is in growing old with people who love you, which is different from growing old and being put up with.”
During her lifetime, Ms. Morano has seen over 90 Italian governments and two wars. Following the First and Second World Wars, she saw the transformation of Italy’s economy into one of the world’s most industrialised nations. Unlike many people, Morano’s life has spanned three centuries, leaving her with many intimate memories of her childhood and teenage years with family and friends.