“It went well,” he was reported as telling local paper Brindisi Report after sitting the first exam on the Italian language on Monday.
“I wrote a page and a half. For the 'free topic essay', I told the story of my life in the fields.”
Like many agricultural workers in the coastal region of Apulia, Pugliese started working on the farm when his father left home to fight in the Second World War.
Aged six, he began waking up at 4am each day – a habit he retains today – to work in the fields and ensure his family had enough to eat. Meanwhile, his schooling was interrupted before he reached Italian middle school (for children aged 11-14), according to Brindisi Report.
The pensioner has six children and nine grandchildren, who he has taught how to work the land. After Pugliese became involved in a local project helping school children to grow plants, his son Vincenzo suggested that his father go back to school to sit his exams.
“He was very emotional,” Vincenzo told Ansa news agency. He joked: “Without a doubt, he'll be unbeatable at History.”
Having taken his Italian and Spanish exams, Pugliese will finish his exams on Wednesday, and he's feeling confident.
“In maths, I won’t have any problem. In the fields if there’s one thing you learn, it’s how to do sums.”