My Heart belongs to Ancona, Italy – Europe’s Largest Centenarian Community
I have followed the COVID-19 story there with keen interest and prayers. The good news is the daily new case rate peaked on March 28 at 53. Today, one month later, the case rate is 5.7! I invite you to travel back to Ancona with me to experience what an incredible sacrifice they have made with the pandemic.
REUNIONCare was selected to exhibit and present at Innov-aging expo-meeting. Ancona was chosen for this worldwide event as it is Europe’s Blue Zone community. Before I begin, I want to thank my parents who trained me to look everyone squarely in the eyes. Failing to do so often lead to a quick tap on the, luckily closed, soft spot in my head to remind me to of this obligation to really see other people.
Welcome to Ancona
Now fast forward the many decades of my life to last week (June, 2018) where I enjoyed an amazing walk up and down the Viale Della Vittoria from the Passetto on the coast of Ancona Italy to the Mole Vanvitellianna where REUNIONCare exhibited and presented at the Innvo-Aging international conference. The Ancona visitor map provides the best description of this amazing region: “To the heart of “Bel Paese” to the center of Italy, the Marche region and to its capital Ancona, in a multiform relaxing territory where the quality of life is at the highest levels in Europe.
Europe’s Blue Zone
Throughout the centuries, Ancona has been a landing place of great civilizations: Piceni, Syracusan Dorians and finally the Romans who favored its vocation as door to the East.”More centenarians can be found in this region than anywhere else in Europe. The Fountain of Youth Juan Ponce de Leon sought in Florida was hiding to his west in Italy. I was staying in a rare Blue Zone. My parents taught me to look everyone in the eyes. The local centenarians met my eyes with equal and sharp intensity I perfected over a lifetime. I met the same faces sitting on the same benches every afternoon. I made up stories of their lives and as they did mine as we sized up each other. I felt accountable to them as they did to each other. It was an exception to see anyone of any age with their eyes down on a screen when walking the promenade. In fact, cars crossing over the grand tree lined walkway failed to mow down a single pedestrian without a traffic light compelling them to stop. These brief and significant engagements extend the length and quality of all of our lives.
My passion is to build the best senior friendly technologies that will monitor and maintain us with a caregiver shortage we face today. However, we must recognize that human eye contact is inherently preferred to the best artificial intelligence or virtual reality. Technology must facilitate our ability and willingness to engage with each other to live long healthy lives in communities accountable for everyone in our view.
Human Connection is Life’s Greatest Blessing
The Italian pace of life, with lengthy meals and conversations, reinforced the high levels of human contact. Slow cooking and garden fresh ingredient required keen eyes to find the perfect combinations turning simplicity into pleasure. All experience through and between the eyes of each other. Thanks Mom and Dad. You made Italy come alive right before my eyes.