Italy’s oldest student



There’s a lot to like about the story of Giuseppe Paterno.

For starters, he’s 98 and sharp as a tack.

He resides in Palermo which has to be one of the most beautiful cities in Italy (and there are so many).

And, stunningly, he’s just graduated with top marks, adding a masters in history and philosophy to the undergraduate degree he gained a couple of years ago.

Sort of makes you feel lazy, doesn’t it?

I just adore this man.

He was born in 1923 (the same year as my dad) and grew up in poverty in Sicily, serving in the navy during the Second World War. He loved books but couldn’t attend university, so became a railway worker.

To me, Giuseppe is a poster boy for purposeful ageing. Iris Apfel fills this role when it comes to style, but this man does it with his brains and endeavour. Both embody purpose through their actions, not their words.

In one fell swoop Giuseppe has destroyed the notion that senior citizens are confused, doddery or no longer capable. This dude is 100% on the ball and has achieved far more academically than about 93% of the world’s population.

Says Giuseppe, “My neighbours used to ask, ‘why all this trouble at your age?’ But they couldn’t understand the importance of reaching a dream, regardless of my age,”

His next dream is to write a novel, using the trusty typewriter on which he wrote the essays that earned his two degrees.

Watch this space.

Go Giuseppe!

Read more