This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time

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Maria Bernacchi, 104, has seen the sea for the first time. Photo courtesy of La Stampa
10:40 CEST+02:00
Maria Bernacchi says she has reached the age of 104 thanks to working hard and having good friends - but she had always wanted to see the sea.

Now her wish has come true.

Together with her carer Liliana, Bernacchi is spending the month at an abbey in Finale Pia, a hamlet that forms part of coastal Finale Ligure in the northern Liguria region.

Having bought her first ever swimming costume for the occasion, she approached the shore on Tuesday afternoon reciting poetry she had learned in primary school, accompanied by some of her hosts from the abbey as well as the resort's lifeguards, La Stampa reported.

“I realized that when I said ‘sea’, I didn’t really know what I was talking about!” she remembered.

“Seeing it was a satisfaction, a joy for the heart, but putting my feet in it was astonishing.

"I feel like I'm in paradise. Here the air is good, in Milan you can’t breathe," Bernacchi added. She and Liliana had originally booked an eight-day stay in Finale Pia, but they now plan to remain for the rest of the month. “Now that I’ve discovered the sea, I never want to leave it again.”

Bernacchi, who spent most of her life working in factories, has shared her secrets for a long, happy life. “Eat everything, work, have lots of friends and find peace," she told La Stampa.

Bernacchi has lived in Milan for 78 years, after moving to be with her husband, Achille, who sadly died 20 years ago. Now she rarely leaves the house.

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Her small apartment is located on the third floor, with no elevator, and she has to pay for a carer to help her leave the building. Shortly after turning 104 in March this year, Bernacchi told local paper Il Giorno that she would never stop dreaming, and still had three wishes. As well as seeing the sea, she longs to move to a home better adapted to her needs.

Now she has completed at least one of her wishes. The third and final one is to meet Pope Francis, who she says is her favourite pope - and over the course of her lifetime, she's seen several.

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