Emma Morano, who at 117 was believed to be the world’s oldest person and the last to be born in the 19th century, died on Saturday, Italian media reported. Morano, who lived in northern Italy, was born on Nov. 29, 1899, four years before the Wright brothers first took to the air. Her life spanned three centuries, two World Wars and more than 90 Italian governments.
Italian news agencies ANSA and Agi said the death was reported by her friends and family. “She had an extraordinary life, and we will always remember her strength to help us move forward in life,” the mayor of Verbania was quoted as saying
Morano celebrated her 117th birthday last November. The secret to her longevity appeared to lie in eschewing usual medical wisdom. “I eat two eggs a day, and that’s it. And cookies. But I do not eat much because I have no teeth,” she told AFP in an interview in October 2016 in her room in Verbania, a town in northern Italy on Lake Maggiore.
Morano had a Guinness World Records certificate declaring her to be the oldest person alive. She was the eldest of eight children who has outlived all her younger siblings. “People come. I don’t invite anybody but they come. From America, Switzerland, Austria, Turin, Milan… They come from all over to see me,” she said with an amused smile.
Morano was a solitary person. Having left her violent husband in 1938 shortly after the death in infancy of her only son, she lived alone, working in a factory producing jute sacks to support herself.
She clung to her independence, only taking on a full-time carer last year, though she has not left her small two-room apartment for 20 years, and has been bed-bound for the last year. While her mind was alert, she was very deaf, speaking with difficulty and did not see well enough to watch television, spending her time instead either sleeping or snacking.