Madelin Tomelty

A slow-living ethos and unabashed glamour combine to create a destination of beguiling eccentricity on the Italian island of Sardinia

If you want to live a long life you should live in the mountains, not too far from the sea, and drink lots of red wine. This was one of my key takeaways from Sardinia, an Italian island known not only for its rugged good looks, but also for being home to some of the world’s longest-living people.

Just five places in the world can claim to be a ‘Blue Zone’ region – where there is an unusually high percentage of people over 100 years old – and Sardinia was the first to be identified. On this unspoilt island, there are nearly 10 times more centenarians per capita than in the United States, and its central eastern province of Nuoro is known for having the planet’s healthiest and longest- living men.

You won’t find these gentlemen playing bingo and canasta in a pastel, Florida-style retirement village, either. It’s far more likely you’ll catch them walking peacefully in nature or sitting at a restaurant, chatting with friends over the catch of the day and a bottle of cabernet sauvignon.

I can’t say I was terribly shocked to discover Sardinians live longer, healthier and happier lives than the average person. If you took 30 seconds to Google the destination you’d see a screen filled with perfect turquoise water and fine-sand beaches, sheep-covered mountains and yacht-dotted marinas.

Sardinia is part of Italy, but it is also considered a semi-autonomous region with its own indigenous languages and traditions, and a rich culture rooted in the connection between people, land and sea. For those that were born and bred here, they’re not just Italian, they’re Sardinian, and they make the distinction proudly – there are, clearly, worse places to grow old.

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