NEWS: Italy
A 70-year-old woman found dead in her chair two years later.

Ital­ian police have dis­cov­ered the mum­mi­fied remains of a 70-year-old woman sit­ting at a table more than two years after her death, spark­ing calls for bet­ter care for the elder­ly in the country.

Marinel­la Beretta, who had no liv­ing rel­a­tives, was found in her home in Presti­no, near Lake Como in north­ern Italy. Police came across her remains when she made a house call dur­ing high winds in Lom­bardy, which risked uproot­ing neglect­ed trees in her garden.

She had not been seen by her neigh­bors for at least two and a half years, accord­ing to Ital­ian media.

“What hap­pened to Marinel­la Beretta in Como, the for­got­ten lone­li­ness, hurts our con­sciences,” Fam­i­ly Min­is­ter Ele­na Bonet­ti said on Face­book. “We have a duty, as a com­mu­ni­ty that wants to stick togeth­er, to remem­ber his life… no one should be left alone.”

Almost 40% of peo­ple over the age of 75 in Italy live alone, accord­ing to a 2018 report by the nation­al sta­tis­tics insti­tute. The same num­ber also said they had no rel­a­tives or friends to turn to in times of need.

Beretta was “lone­li­ness per­son­i­fied”, wrote jour­nal­ist Mas­si­mo Gramelli­ni on the front page of Cor­riere del­la Sera, Italy’s best-sell­ing dai­ly. “Many of us still have mem­o­ries of the chaot­ic, branch­ing fam­i­lies of peas­ant Italy. Instead, the mod­ern fam­i­ly is shrunk­en… Peo­ple die alone. And we live alone, which is almost worse.

Her neigh­bours, who had not seen Beretta since Sep­tem­ber 2019, assumed she had moved away at the start of the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, which hit north­ern Italy in 2020, accord­ing to reports. Police found noth­ing at the scene to sug­gest foul play and the coun­cil were to pay for his funer­al and burial.

“The mys­tery of Marinel­la’s invis­i­ble life behind the closed gate of her cot­tage teach­es us a ter­ri­ble les­son,” the Mes­sag­gero news­pa­per said. “The real sad­ness isn’t that oth­ers did­n’t notice her death. It’s that they did­n’t real­ize Marinel­la Beretta was alive.

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