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Italy's oldest man just turned 111

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Italy's oldest man just turned 111
File photo: Pexels
10:24 CET+01:00
Valerio Piroddi, known to friends as Tziu (Uncle) Mundicu, had 111 candles to blow out on his birthday cake on Sunday, making him Italy's oldest man.

Originally from Villamassargia in southern Sardinia, Piroddi now lives in Cagliari, where he celebrated his big day with friends and family - children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

"He's a true phenomenon, with a biological age of at least 20 years less than his true age," said Roberto Pili, President of the Global Community of Longevity which has followed Piroddi and presented the supercentenarian with a plaque of recognition for his birthday.

Pili told Ansa news agency that Piroddi has "excellent memory and motor skills"; he also lives independently and goes for a walk every morning.

Piroddi receiving his plaque.

Piroddi worked as a farmer until the age of 85, and has a typical Mediterranean diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables along with cheese and red wine. He's also a fan of donuts and ice cream, and was able to indulge in plenty of sweet treats on his special day.

The number of centenarians in the country has more than tripled over the last 15 years - but why?

The longevity of Italians - particularly in Sardinia, where a high proportion of those living in its rural communities can expect to live beyond 100 - has intrigued scientists for years, and studies are regularly carried out to try to discover the Mediterranean secret. Earlier this year, a UK firm bought genetic data of over 12,000 Sardinians in an attempt to uncover just why they live so long.

The world's oldest woman, Emma Morano, has said her secret is staying single and eating eggs every day.

Other factors scientists believe to be behind the trend include antioxidant properties of traditional Italian foods, like red wine, olive oil and rosemary, as well as the emphasis on family ties and community in the country's rural areas.

READ MORE: Cheese, wine and family - the Italian way to live beyond 100

Cheese, wine and family: the Italian way to live beyond 100

Photo: Sergio Pani/Flickr

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