Italian police discovered the mummified remains of a 70-year-old woman sitting at a table in her cottage. She had been dead for over two years. It has prompted calls for better care for older people.
Marinella Beretta was found in her house in Prestino near Lake Como in northern Italy. She had no living relatives. Police found her mummified remains when they made a house call during high winds in Lombardy, which risked uprooting neglected trees in her garden.
Her neighbours had not seen her for at least two and a half years, Italian media reported.
“What happened to Marinella Beretta in Como, the forgotten loneliness, hurts our consciences,” the family minister, Elena Bonetti, said on Facebook. “We have a duty, as a community that wants to remain united, to remember her life … no one must be left alone.”
Her neighbours assumed she had moved away at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, reports said. Police found nothing at the scene to suggest foul play.
Large percentage of elderly live alone
Almost 40% of over-75-year-olds in Italy live alone, according to a 2018 report by the national statistics institute. The same percentage also said they had neither relatives nor friends to turn to in case of need.
Corriere della Sera journalist Massimo Gramellini wrote Beretta was “loneliness personified”. “Many of us still have memories of the chaotic, branched families of peasant Italy. Instead, the modern family is reduced … People die alone. And we live alone, which is almost worse.”