Luigi Cornaro

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Not to be confused with Cardinal Luigi Cornaro (1517-84).

Alvise "Luigi" Cornaro (1467[1]–1566) was a Venetian nobleman who wrote treatises on dieting for health and longevity. Finding himself near death at the age of 35, Cornaro modified his eating habits on the advice of his doctors and began to adhere to a calorie restriction diet, centered on the "quantifying principle" of restricting himself to only 350g of food daily (including bread, egg yolk, meat, and soup) and 414 mL of wine.[2] His book Discorsi della vita sobria (Discourses On the Temperate Life), which described his regimen, was extremely successful, and "was a true reconceptualization of old age. As late as the Renaissance it was largely the negative aspects of this phase of life which were emphasized ... Cornaro’s method offered the possibility for the first time not only of a long but also a worthwhile life."[2]

His first treatise was written when he was 83, and its English translation, often referred to today under the title The Sure and Certain Method of Attaining a Long and Healthful Life, went through numerous editions; this was followed by three others on the same subject, composed at the ages of eighty-six, ninety-one and ninety-five respectively. The first three were published at Padua in 1558. They are written, says Joseph Addison, in the early eighteenth-century periodical The Spectator (No. 195), "with such a spirit of cheerfulness, religion and good sense, as are the natural concomitants of temperance and sobriety." He died at Padua at age 98, according to his birth and death date in the 1911 Encyclopedia of Britannica; other sources give his age at death as 102.[3]

In the work known as Illustrissimi, a collection of letters written by Pope John Paul I when he was Patriarch of Venice, Cornaro serves as one of the "recipients" of the letters. There are 40 letters in all, mainly to people in Italian history and fiction, but also to internationally well known fictional and historical characters such as Pinocchio, Charles Dickens, Hippocrates, and Jesus.


  1. ^ The 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica gives a birth date of 1467
  2. ^ a b Schäfer, Daniel (Mar–Apr 2005). "Aging, Longevity, and Diet: Historical Remarks on Calorie Intake Reduction". Gerontology 51 (2): 126–30. doi:10.1159/000082198. PMID 15711080. 
  3. ^ Arthur V. Everitt; Leonie K. Heilbronn; David G. Le Couteur. "Food Intake, Life Style, Aging and Human Longevity". In Everitt, Arthur V; Rattan, Suresh IS; Le Couteur, David G et al. Calorie Restriction, Aging and Longevity. New York: Springer. pp. 15–41. ISBN 978-90-481-8555-9. 

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