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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Roseto Mystery

I am reading a book, Outliers, by my favorite author, Malcom Gladwell. I am not even close to completing the book but I was so inspired and I felt like I have something to offer to all of you. In the Introduction, the author took the readers to visit an incredible story about The Roseto Mystery, how they migrated from Roseto Valfortore located about one hundred miles southeast of Rome, Italy. to US. First they came in a group of eleven Rosetans –ten men and one boy—set sail for New York. After settling down, they sent message back home and the following year, came fifteen Rosetans. And as time passed, twelve years later in 1894, twelve hundred Rosetans applied for passports to America, abandoning their own town. 

Town of Roseto Valfortore, Italy Image courtesy of
They called their new town Roseto, Pennsylvania. Somehow they were blessed by their health as no one seemed to pass away due to heart attack but old age.—Rarely anyone who was under sixty five with heart disease, this was in 1950s, according to Outliers.  In fact the finding suggested that “There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and very little crime. They didn’t have anyone on welfare. Then they looked at peptic ulcers. They didn’t have any of those either. These people were dying of old age. That’s it!” Stewart Wolf, a physician, found this mystery fascinating. He was determined to solve it. At first, he thought the Rosetans must have special diets until he discovered that instead of cooking with olive oil, a much healthier oil, they had been cooking with lard. Further discoveries spelled that the Rosetans consumed 41 percents of their calories from fat and they smoked heavily and many were struggling with obesity.

Then Wolf went down the path to analyze their genetics and later tracked down Rosetans’ relatives who were living in other part of the US to see whether they shared some similarity only to find dead end. –They didn’t. Now Wolf started to suspect the location where they lived may have some influenced. There were couple towns nearby where Roseto is and those people had similarity habit and background but only to find much of their death were due to heart disease. –Another dead end.

After scratching his head, Wof finally derived to one point, if it wasn’t the diet, or the genetics or the location, it must be the Rosetans. After further observations, Wolf found that the way of their living. Rosetans have a very social, warm and close knit community. Throughout the day, people were stopping and chatting away with their friends. If one needed a hand, the whole community would lend theirs.

What I found the most intriguing about this story is something quite foreign in this age of our society. We are so busy with our own lives and we can’t even spare 30 seconds to let someone pass or let someone into our lanes when we are driving, let alone lending our hands to the needy ones. Even with the medical so advanced today, we are still finding our close friends dying from heart attacked at relatively young age. What do we need to do to have the close knit community like the Rosetans  have?--Have you ever wondered?

I am hoping this journey of visiting the Roseta Mystery, Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell will inspire all of us to start reaching out and building a community that we all could treasure and benefit from and perhaps --someday when the time come, we would visit our ancestors in a natural way, not heart attack. 

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Until next stop,
Journey of Life


  1. Loved this book! Thanks for posting this.

    1. That was a nice surprise, Andy! Thanks for the visit. This book is one of the best!

  2. This all sounds so interesting!

    1. It is, isn't it? Do you have the close knit community in where you live?

  3. Is that you? You look so different without the hat :)