Seulo, located between Barbagia and Ogliastra, is a true factory for centenarians – a record on the island of records. It is suffice to point out that a person born here is statistically ten times more likely to live to 100 than the average Italian.
Genealogist Pino Ledda is currently creating family trees of all the Seulesi (people from Seulo) by studying their origins, habits and personal stories.
The project is called Per non perdere la memoria (‘So as not to forget’). Ledda is drawing on his experience gained at SharDna, a company founded by Renato Soru which has collected personal, clinical and genealogical data from 80% of the inhabitants of eight districts in the Sardinian Blue Zone for 11 years (it has been sold to the San Raffaele Foundation).
Discoveries are at times unusually surprising. Just think that Seulo is amongst those towns with the highest number of graduates in relation to the town population. According to Ledda, the study of isolated populations is a modern and valuable tool for research into the genetic basis of complex illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis. This is because in these populations it is possible to register – along with geographical and linguistic isolation – a high rate of inbreeding associated with very little migration and emigration.
It is well known that the area in question is a very special genetic park. Mario Pirastu, director of the Institute of population genetics of Italy’s National Research Council (CNR), has confirmed that ancient populations here – and often ones with an ancestor in common – have lived isolated for centuries. These men and women have lived in a harsh, but unpolluted climate and fed themselves on what nature has to offer. In essence, their lives have been characterised by hard work and intense physical activity but little emotional stress.
The Sardinian town has also aroused curiosity on an international scale. Great interest has been manifested by Fort Worth, the county seat of Tarrant County in Texas (USA), in the lifestyle of its inhabitants and it appears that negotiations are underway for a twinning project.