Italy's Emma Morano, the world's oldest living person, marked her 117th birthday Tuesday, blowing out all the candles on her cake.
Beaming at the attention, Morano took in the festivities for her milestone celebration sitting in an armchair in her one-room apartment in the northern town of Verbania, joined by her two elderly nieces, a pair of caregivers and her long-time physician.
She received a greeting from Italy's president, read by an official, wishing her "serenity and good health," and appeared for a brief live broadcast on state-run television. She happily accepted some gifts, including her favorite cookies, which she ate with some milk.
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Then she blew out the candles on her cake — not one for every year, but three numerals to show her age, 117 — and quipped: "I hope I don't have to cut it!"
To the assembled well-wishers, Morano said, "I am happy to turn 117," and drew encouragement from her physician, Dr. Carlo Bava.
"Who would have said it?!" the doctor remarked. "When you were young everyone used to say you were weak and sick."
"Yes, yes," she responded.
Another party, including a visit from the mayor and another cake, was planned for the afternoon, after a nap.
Morano, who is believed to be the last surviving person in the world born in the 1800s, became the oldest living person in May. According to Reuters, Morano swears by a diet of two raw eggs per day.
Bava told Reuters TV that Morano never ate much fruit or vegateables, and that she insists on eating the same things.
"When I first knew her she used to eat three eggs a day. Two raw, and one fried. Today she has slowed down a bit, reducing the number to two some days because she says three can be too much," he said.
Her life has not been without challenges, either. Five years ago in an interview with the newspaper La Stampa, she recalled the death of her fiance during World War I, and her unhappy marriage to another man, Reuters reported.
Morano, according to Reuters, lives by herself and has outlived her eight brothers and sisters.
Italy is known for its centenarians — many of whom live on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia — and gerontologists are studying Morano, along with a handful of Italians over 105, to try to figure out their longevity. Bava has credited Morano's long life to her genetic makeup, "and nothing else."