A small Italian village’s secret to the Fountain of Youth.
Deep in the heart of the Aurunci range on the shores of central Italy lies a village where the average life expectancy for both men and women is 95, earning it the sobriquet Il Paese dell’Eterna Giovinezza (The Village of Eternal Youth). This fact caught the attention of British journalist Lawson, who traveled to Campodimele to investigate the phenomenon. “I came to Campodimele hoping I might learn how to live longer, but discovered something much more important—how to live well,” she writes. The author’s lighthearted mix of recipes and anecdotes are written with delicate prose that pays homage to the area’s lifestyle and emphasizes the value of subtleties attributed to the residents’ longevity. Lawson divides the sections by month, focusing on what the seasonal harvest brings—snails, wild boar, asparagus and more. Lawson observes that Italians don’t “need an official call to celebrate. A new crop is a chance to invite your neighbors for lunch and enjoy the first fava beans of the year; a sunny day is an excuse for a walk in the mountains and meat grilled over an open wood fire; the start of the hunting season is the moment to gather friends for dinner to share your first kill of the year.” It’s an ideology she soon embraced. The author’s account of a year in Campodimele doesn’t burden readers with scientific information involving genetics, environment and diet. Rather, it captures the essence of everyday life.
Delightfully transports readers into the kitchens and the spirits of the villagers’ longstanding customs.