If you are thinking of living to a ripe old age and want to know how to go about it, you may be interested to know that in Sant’Ambrogio, a little hamlet just 5kms from Cefalù on the northern coast of Sicily, there is a small community of senior citizens who don’t mind sharing their secret of a long and healthy life.
From left to right: Antonio 82, Giovanni Senior 97, Giovanni Junior 84.
They don’t own cars, computers, iPads or mobile phones, and some of them don’t even have any teeth. But all of them have a vegetable patch out of town, an olive grove, orange and lemon trees, a small vinyard and perhaps a goat or two.
Most days, come rain or shine, they walk from the village up to their plots of land to plant or harvest whatever vegetable is in season which means that egg plant and peppers are only eaten during summer months and never in winter. Tomatoes are bottled in summer and made into sauce during the winter months. They never have to buy wine or olive oil as they always have their own supply.
Yes, it’s a simple life and probably back breaking too but they live quite happily without ever having tasted a Big Mac. Giovanni Junior (84 years old) was found up the top of an olive tree recently, grasping for those out of reach olives that no-one ever usually bothers to pick. He’s also earnestly looking for a new wife too.
As highly respected members of the community they are regularly consulted regarding all matters concerning the welfare of the village. Undoubtedly this alone is enough to keep the mind and body alive, just knowing that they are valued and needed.
A Sicilian proverb goes “Pani e vinu rinforza lu schinu” (bread and wine strenghten the backbone). These guys have certainly eaten their fare share of bread, healthy food and drunk quite a lot of good wine too.