The village with the key to longevity

Interviewing Dr Paolo Francalacci, a geneticist (right)

In October 2019, I filmed a series of short documentaries for BBC Reel in Ogliastra, a co-called “blue zone” where people have a much higher chance of living to 100 than anywhere else in the world.

The series explores the role of genetics in longevity, and the lifestyle factors that might explain the extraordinarily high life expectancy in this region. It can be best summed up in the Italian acronym of “La Vita GAIA” – where G stands for “genetica” (genetics), A stands for “alimentazione e ambiente” (diet and environment”, I stands for “integrazione” (social integration) and A stands for “autostima” (self-esteem). It has now gone live and you can find all the films on the “Exlir of Life” playlist. Here’s one of my favourite stills from the shoot, of me with Zia Assunta, who is 100 but still lives a largely independent life with her 91-year-old sister.

In other news, you can read my review of Jeffrey Rediger’s book Cured for the i newspaper, and a piece I wrote for the Observer about the rise of online learning during the Covid-19 lockdown and its benefits for our psychological wellbeing. You can also watch a video interview with me about the rise of misinformation during the crisis.

Most excitingly, I’ve just signed a deal with Canongate for the UK & Commonwealth rights of my second book. Translation deals also sold for Portugal and Taiwan. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be writing it – more details soon! For the time being, I’m immensely enjoying diving into the first few chapters.