Framinghams Gina Galvani ready to celebrate 111th birthday – MetroWest Daily News


Gina Ravazzola Galvani, an Italian immigrant who moved to Framingham in the 1930, had a vibrant social life. Kids and grandkids were always nearby, and Galvani and her husband, John, were surrounded by friends in their home.

FRAMINGHAM — John Mancini attributes his grandmother’s longevity to more than good genes and a healthy diet.

Gina Ravazzola Galvani, an Italian immigrant who moved to Framingham in the 1930s and raised a family here, had a vibrant social life. Kids and grandkids were always nearby, and Galvani and her husband, John, were surrounded by friends in their home in Tripoli, the city’s Italian enclave.

“A lot of people lived in the neighborhood for a few generations, and everybody knew each other,” Mancini said. “It was kind of an open-door thing where friends, neighbors, relatives were always welcome in their household.”

Gina Galvani will be in good company once again on Sunday, Dec. 16, when family will gather at Bethany Health Care Center in Framingham to celebrate her 111th birthday. Relatives will mark the occasion with pizza, cake and light refreshments.

Galvani was also in the spotlight at the Memorial Building on Tuesday as city councilors passed a resolution recognizing her extraordinary longevity. Galvani received a citation congratulating and honoring her for becoming the oldest living resident of Framingham.

Born in 1907, Galvani grew up in a town called Castell’Arquato in the province of Piacenza in northern Italy. She was the daughter of farmers, and married a neighbor, John Galvani, in 1927. John Galvani was born in Framingham years earlier, but returned to the home country with his family.

The Galvanis then made their way back to the United States, settling in Framingham in 1930 with their daughter, Ave Maria. A son, Carlo, was born soon afterward. The family later grew to include eight grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.

Gina Galvani, a seamstress, helped support the family working at an apron factory on Eames Street. She also made sure they were well fed. Mancini, 71, said there were no convenience foods in Galvani’s kitchen. She avoided foods with preservatives, and made dishes from scratch.

Mancini said his grandmother ate a Mediterranean diet, centered around fresh fruits and vegetables, pasta and tomato sauce — or gravy, as she called it — which served as the base for a number of different meals. Mancini recalled another one of his favorites was cappelletti soup, with tortellini, ricotta cheese and spinach.

Gina Galvani complemented her healthy diet with good habits. Mancini said his grandmother, a regular at St. Tarcisius Church, didn’t smoke or drink. Longevity also runs the family. Galvani’s brother, her only sibling, lived to be 99.

But life has not been without complications for Galvani, who lost her husband in 1978. She survived a breast cancer diagnosis earlier in life, and underwent a major gall bladder operation around age 90. Galvani also had a pacemaker installed more than 15 years ago. Mancini said doctors have replaced the batteries three or four times because her grandmother keeps outliving them.

“She’s had some great doctors and she’s got a great attitude,” he said. “She doesn’t let it get her down.”

Galvani remained at her family’s home until March of this year. She relocated to a skilled nursing facility after the death of her daughter, who had been her caretaker for many years.

For her part, Galvani — now the oldest surviving participant in the Framingham Heart Study — remains nonchalant about her enduring health. Mancini said he believes she benefited from her close relationships over the years.

“She gives a lot of love, and she gets a lot of love,” he said. “She’s a great friend.”

Jim Haddadin can be reached at 617-863-7144 or jhaddadin@wickedlocal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @JimHaddadin

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