Grazia Bruno, 68, was pronounced dead on February 6th, La Repubblica reported.
But seven days on, her family say there is still no sign of decay on her body, which is being kept in a coffin in the family home in Villagrazia di Carini, a hamlet close to Palermo.
“Her nails are perfect, pink in colour. The colour of her eyes is the same...her arms, legs and face are not stiff. She seems to be sleeping,” Francesco Passalacqua, one of her sons, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
The family is determined to resist burial until they see proof that the body is decomposing.
"The thought of burying our mother alive makes us feel sick," Passalacqua added.
Bruno, who suffered from lung cancer that had spread to her breast, was initially confirmed dead by the family doctor, and later by another doctor, who was said to be “stunned” that her body hadn't started to decay.
The second doctor then advised the family to wrap the corpse in blankets and place it by the heater in order to speed up the decomposition process.
“Her body temperature has not decreased despite the heating being on,” Passalacqua said.
Bruno, a mother of four, was transferred to a nursing home on February 5th after medical staff at a local hospital said nothing more could be done for her. Her breathing then started to slow, and she was pronounced dead the next morning.
The town's mayor, Giuseppe Agrusa, has now intervened, saying that a burial order will be issued if the family continues to resist burial.
"The police have completed the process and Grazia Bruno's death has been confirmed, both by a physician and a doctor from the health authority. Tomorrow morning we'll convince the family that we must take the body to the cemetery for burial."