“I was at the beach, and I saw all these leathernecked, tanned people in their 90s and 100s who looked nine months pregnant and were smoking cigarettes”. These are the words of cardiologist Alan Maisel from the University of California in San Diego who went on holiday to a small town in Italy and stumbled on an unexpected fountain of youth.
Being a cardiologist he thought a good diet, regular exercise and refraining from smoking were key elements to a long and healthy life. Except these villagers were smokers, were fat, enjoyed their wine, and were totally relaxed. He has now teamed up with the Sapienza University of Rome to try and figure out why a population of only 2,000 has 300 elders who have reached the age of 100.