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Emma Morano Was Once the World’s Oldest Living Person

Photo Credit: OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / Getty Images
Photo Credit: OLIVIER MORIN / AFP / Getty Images

Emma Morano died on Saturday, April 15, 2017, at the age of 117. She was the world’s oldest person to be born in the 1800s and was, presumably, the last survivor of the 19th century. Her physician, Dr. Carlo Bava, said that he was contacted by Morano’s caretaker with news that she had passed away that Saturday afternoon at her home in Verbania, a town on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.

Emma Morano’s long life

Technically, Morano’s life spanned across three centuries, and the world had changed pretty drastically since her birth in 1899. During her life, she survived two World Wars and 90 separate Italian governments, as well as witnessed many important scientific discoveries. These included insulin, antibiotics, penicillin, the television, the atomic bomb, cell phones, computers, the internet, and more.

Portrait of Emma Morano as a baby.
Emma Morano in 1900. (Photo Credit: Unknown Author / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Born in the Piedmont region of northern Italy on November 29th, 1899, Morano was the eldest of eight children born to Giovanni Morano and Matilde Bresciani. When she was a child, her family moved to Pallanza, on Lake Maggiore, where she lived for the rest of her life. Her life changed completely in 1919 when she was diagnosed with anemia at the young age of 20. The doctor told Morano to eat raw eggs for her anemia and for the rest of her life she maintained the regime, ignoring the advice of many doctors who tried to warn her that eating raw eggs a day was bad for her health. Ironically, she outlived most of them.

She experienced difficult marriages

When the First World War was underway, Morano was engaged. However, her fiancé was called to the front lines and, unfortunately, he never came back. She eventually moved on, as by 1926, she married a man named Giovanni Martinuzzi. Morano didn’t actually want to marry him, but he forced her to, and the couple had a son in 1937. Sadly, the baby died after just six months.

Side portrait of Emma Morano.
Emma Morano’s portrait, circa the 1920s. (Photo Credit: Unknown Author / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Their marriage was not a happy one, as Martinuzzi often beat her, so shortly after the death of her only child, she decided to leave him. She later credited her longevity with having left her violent husband. Morano told the New York Times that she had plenty of suitors after that, but never chose another partner. “I didn’t want to be dominated by anyone,” she said. Morano supported herself by working in a factory making jute bags and as a cook in a hotel. She didn’t retire until she was 75 years old.

Her health routine

Emma Morrano surrounded by loved ones, a 117 birthday cake in front of her.
Emma Morano is seen on her 117th birthday in Verbania, northwest Italy, on Nov. 29, 2016. (Photo Credit: Xinhua / Getty Images)

Dr. Bava, who was her doctor for nearly a quarter of a century, told the Guardian that Morano rarely ate any vegetables or fruit. He said that when he met Morano, she ate three eggs a day, two raw in the morning, an omelet at noon, and chicken at dinner. Clearly, a well-balanced diet was not entirely responsible for Morano’s longevity.

Read another story from us: Clare Hollingworth, a British war correspondent who broke the news of WWII, dies aged 105

Apparently, genetics also played a role in her living a long life. It turns out that Morano wasn’t the only person in her family that lived a longer than average life. Her sister, Angela Morano, died at the age of 102, and her mother died at 91.

Goran Blazeski

Goran Blazeski is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News