Showing posts with label Nuoro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nuoro. Show all posts

22 January 2019

Antonio Todde - supercentenarian

Sardinian shepherd holds record as oldest Italian in history


Antonio Todde attributed his longevity to long walks and a daily glass of local red wine
Antonio Todde attributed his longevity to long walks
and a daily glass of local red wine
Antonio Todde, who was the oldest living man in the world before he died at the age of 112 years 346 days in 2002 and remains the oldest Italian man in history, was born on this day in 1889 in Tiana, a mountain village in Sardinia.

There are 19 other Italians who have attained a higher age, but all are women. Maria Giuseppa Robucci, from Apulia, is still living at the age of 115 years 307 days but would need to survive a further year and 195 days to match Emma Morano, from Piedmont, who died in 2017 aged 117 years 137 days as the oldest Italian of all time.

Todde was the world’s most senior male centenarian from the death of the American John Painter on March 1, 2001 until his own death 10 months later.

He was born to a poor shepherd family in Tiana, about 140km (87 miles) north of Cagliari in the Gennargentu mountains, about 55km (34 miles) southwest of the provincial capital, Nuoro.

The area historically has a high number of centenarians and there was longevity in Todde’s family. His father Francesco lived to be 90 years old, and his mother Francesca 98. His sister Maria Agostina - one of 11 siblings - was still alive at the age of 97 at the time of his death and herself lived to be 102.

Emma Morano, pictured at 21, lived to be 117, as the oldest Italian in history
Emma Morano, pictured at 21, lived to be 117,
as the oldest Italian in history
Born the same year as the Eiffel Tower was completed, Todde believed that the secret of his long life was a daily glass of locally-produced red wine, made by his grandson on the same rocky hills on which, as a shepherd, he spent almost all his life.

He had a simple diet based on pasta, vegetable soup, red meat and cheese, took regular long walks and relaxed by playing cards with his friends.

He rarely suffered ill health and passed away in his sleep, just a few hours after complaining that he had no appetite.

Todde left Sardinia only to fight in the First World War, in which he suffered an injured shoulder as a result of a grenade explosion.

In 1920, he married Maria Antonia, then aged 25, and they had four daughters and a son. She died in 1990, aged 95.

Todde's life and those of his fellow islanders was the focus of a scientific project, called Akea, into ageing and longevity, which was prompted by the high number of Sardinia's 1.6 million population who become centenarians.

Some 135 people per million on the island live to see their 100th birthday, compared with the western average of 75.

Akea is an acronym for "A Kent'Annos" - a Sardinian traditional greeting which means "a hundred years". It grew from studies carried out since 1997 by the team of Professor Luca Deiana, head of the biochemistry clinic, University of Sassari. The study took into account genetic, dietary and lifestyle factors.

Antonio Todde worked as a shepherd in the rugged Gennargentu mountains of central Sardinia
Antonio Todde worked as a shepherd in the rugged
Gennargentu mountains of central Sardinia
Travel tip:

The village of Tiana is located on the western slopes of the Gennargentu massif, almost at the geographical centre of Sardinia, surrounded by mountains climbing to more than 1,000m (3,280ft). The village traditionally produced a woolen fabric called orbace, obtained from spinning wool and used to make winter clothes. Narrow streets, houses huddled together and passages covered by arches characterize the historical centre of the village.  A museum of industrial archaeology in the locality of Gusagu includes Sa Cracchera de tziu Bellu, the last active fulling-mill on the island, and one of only a few in Europe. Fulling is a process aimed at eliminating oil, dirt and other impurities from wool and making it thicker.

Nuoro is a city of narrow streets and traditional stone houses
Nuoro is a city of narrow streets and
traditional stone houses
Travel tip:

Nuoro is a city in eastern central Sardinia of about 36,000 people, the sixth largest on the island, characterised by cobbled streets lined with traditional stone houses.  Situated on the slopes of Monte Ortobene, it is the birthplace of several renowned writers, poets, painters, and sculptors, including Grazia Deledda, the only Italian woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, whose birthplace is one of the city’s many museums. As a cultural centre, Nuoro is sometimes called the Athens of Sardinia.

More reading:

Maria Radaelli - the Inter fan who for 10 months was the oldest living person in Europe

Lazzaro Ponticelli, the First World War veteran who became world's oldest living Italian

Francesco Chiarello: fought in two world wars, lived to be 109

Also on this day:

1506: The founding of the Papal Swiss Guard

1893: The birth of gang boss Francesco Ioele, also known as Frankie Yale

2005: The death of First World War veteran Carlo Orelli, aged 110


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27 September 2018

Grazia Deledda - Nobel Prize winner

First Italian woman to be honoured


Grazia Deledda was the first Italian woman to win a Nobel Prize
Grazia Deledda was the first Italian
woman to win a Nobel Prize
The novelist Grazia Deledda, who was the first of only two Italian women to be made a Nobel laureate when she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, was born on this day in 1871 in the city of Nuoro in Sardinia.

A prolific writer from the age of 13, she published around 50 novels or story collections over the course of her career, most of them drawing on her own experience of life in the rugged Sardinian countryside.

The Nobel prize was awarded "for her idealistically inspired writings which with plastic clarity picture the life on her native island and with depth and sympathy deal with human problems in general."

Deledda’s success came at the 11th time of asking, having been first nominated in 1913. The successful nomination came from Henrik Schuck, a literature historian at the Swedish Academy.

Born into a middle-class family - her father, Giovanni, was in her own words a “well-to-do landowner” - Deledda drew inspiration for her characters from the stream of friends and business acquaintances her father insisted must stay at their home whenever they were in Nuoro.

The cover of an early edition of Elias Portolu, Deledda's first big success
The cover of an early edition of Elias
Portolú, Deledda's first big success
She was not allowed to attend school beyond the age of 11 apart from private tuition in Italian, which was not at the time the first language of many Sardinians, who tended to converse in their own dialect, sardo logudorese. Beyond that, she continued her education by reading as much quality literature as she could get hold of.

Her parents did not encourage her writing but she persevered and, on the advice of her English teacher, submitted a story to a magazine when she was 13 and was delighted when they decided to publish it.

Even at that early stage in her career, her stories tended to be starkly realistic in their reflection of the hard life many Sardinians endured at the time and she often used the sometimes brutally challenging landscape of the island as a metaphor for the difficulties in her characters’ lives.

Yet she would more often blame societal factors and flawed morals for the difficult circumstances in which her characters found themselves, which reflected her own optimistic view of human nature.

However, she was chastised by her father for the way her stories questioned the patriarchal structure of Sardinian society and they were not received well generally in Nuoro, where some people expressed their displeasure by burning copies of the magazine that published her work.

There is a commemorative bust of Grazia Deledda on Pincio hill in Rome
There is a commemorative bust of
Grazia Deledda on Pincio hill in Rome
Deledda completed her first novel, Fior di Sardegna (Flower of Sardinia) in 1892, when she was not quite 21. She sent to a publisher in Rome, who accepted. Again it was shunned in Nuoro, but it was successful enough elsewhere for her to set about writing more and she submitted at least one every year, sometimes using a pseudonym.

In 1900, she visited Cagliari, the Sardinian capital on a rare holiday. She had never been far from Nuoro before but it proved a momentous occasion. She met Palmiro Madesani, a civil servant who would become her husband.  After they were married, they moved to Rome, where Deledda would live for the remainder of her life.

It was there that she tasted her first real success with Elias Portolú (1903), a novel that was published in Italian first but which was translated into French and subsequently all the major European languages, bringing her international recognition for the first time.

The period between 1903 and 1920 was her most productive phase for her, in which she wrote some of her best work. Her 1904 novel Cenere (Ashes) was turned into a film starring the celebrated actress Eleonora Duse.

Deledda preferred a quiet life with her family to any celebrity despite the attention the prize brought her
Deledda preferred a quiet life with her family to any
celebrity despite the attention the prize brought her
Life in Sardinia continued to be her favourite theme. Nostalgie (Nostalgia, 1905), I giuochi della vita (The Gambles of Life, 1905), L’ombra del passato (Shadow of the Past, 1907) and L’edera (The Ivy, 1908) brought her more success.

This brought her a comfortable living and she was happy in Rome, even if she preferred a quiet life at home to celebrity. If she was bitter at the way her family had reacted to her writing, she did not let it stand in the way of her humanity and she supported her brothers, Andrea and Santus, after her father died.

Deledda died in Rome in 1936 at the age of just 64, having suffered with breast cancer. Her last years were painful but she never lost her optimistic view of life, which she believed was beautiful and serene and gave her the strength to overcome physical and spiritual hardships. Her later works reflected her strong religious faith.

Italy's only other female Nobel Prize-winner is Rita Levi-Montalcini, who won the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine.

The house in Nuoro where the novelist was born is now a museum
The house in Nuoro where the novelist
was born is now a museum
Travel tip:

Deledda's birthplace and childhood home in Nuoro has been preserved as a museum in her honour. Called the Museo Deleddiano, it consists of 10 rooms where the stages of the writer's life are reconstructed.  The building is located in Santu Pedru, one of the city's oldest quarters. The house was sold in 1913 but remains mostly unaltered. It was acquired by the Municipality of Nuoro in 1968 and, thanks to the generosity of the Madesani-Deledda family,  a large number of manuscripts, photographs, documents and personal belongings of the novelist are on display.  The museum, in Via Grazia Deledda, is open from 10am to 1pm and from 3pm to 7pm (8pm in summer), every day except Mondays.

Nuoro is situated in a ruggedly mountainous area
Nuoro is situated in a ruggedly mountainous area
Travel tip:

Nuoro, situated on the slopes of the Monte Ortobene in central eastern Sardinia, has grown to be the sixth largest city in Sardinia with a population of more than 36,000.  The birthplace of several renowned artists, including the poet Sebastiano Satta, the novelist Salvatore Satta - a cousin - the architect and car designer Flavio Manzoni and the award-winning sculptor Francesco Ciusa, it is considered an important cultural centre.  It is also home of one of reputedly the world’s rarest pasta - su filindeu, which in the Sardinian language means "the threads of God" - which is made exclusively by the women of a single family to a recipe passed down through generations.

More reading:

Giosuè Carducci - the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature

How Nobel Prize-winner Dario Fo put the spotlight on corruption

The groundbreaking talent of actress Eleonora Duse

Also on this day:

1966: The birth of rapper Jovanotti

1979: The death on Capri of actress and singer Gracie Fields 


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