Tributes paid to 107-year-old Hitchin woman

PUBLISHED: 09:37 26 January 2011 | UPDATED: 09:07 28 January 2011

Domenica Guddemi celebrating her 107th birthday with (l-r) Emanuela Raviele (great grand-daughter), Giuseppina Raviele (grand-daughter) and Emanuela Girgenti (daughter).

Domenica Guddemi celebrating her 107th birthday with (l-r) Emanuela Raviele (great grand-daughter), Giuseppina Raviele (grand-daughter) and Emanuela Girgenti (daughter).

Daniel Wilson

THE family of a “remarkable” woman from Hitchin who at 107-years-old was thought to be the oldest resident in Comet country, have paid tribute to her following her death last week.

Italian born Domenica Guddemi, who was known to her family as Nonna Mica, lived in Hitchin for 48 years.

Her granddaughter Josie Raviele said that she was loved by all those who met her.

“She was remarkable, so loved, and a wonderful model for us all,” said Mrs Raviele. “I was surprised by how she moved with the times. I learned so much from her.

“She was very family orientated, and so economic. She brought us all up so well and was good at everything she did.

“Nonna was a great cook, and a good seamstress. She could make things out of nothing. Everyone that knew her loved her.”

Mrs Guddemi lived off a Mediterranean diet, and ate healthily whilst remaining active.

“She always used to boil water then refrigerate it. When she was younger, there was an outbreak of cholera in her village and people died. But she survived because of the water,” said Mrs Raviele.

“She lived on olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables. She ate vegetables all the time.”

Mrs Guddemi was the eldest of seven children, and was fond of spending time with her family. Every Friday, her five great-grandchildren would visit her after school.

Although she spoke little English, her family all spoke Italian so they could communicate with her.

“If she was going to the shop and needed to get something, she would ask us how to say something in English and then go in and say it,” said Mrs Raviele.

“She was like a second mother to me. She was to all of us.”

Mrs Guddemi was mobile until she had a fall at the end of November, after which she was taken to Lister Hospital where she later passed away.

After her death, her daughter Emanuela Girgenti, who had cared for Mrs Guddemi for 11 years, found a box from her mother with instructions written 17 years ago on what to do when she died.

And true to the wishes expressed in it, she will be taken back to her beloved Sicily to be reunited with her son Ciccino and husband Vito after 56 years apart.


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