ORROLI, Sardinia -- Giovanni Frau, Italy's oldest man, has died at the age of 112, his family said Friday.
Frau, a farmer who attributed his longevity to homegrown food, died in his sleep Thursday, the man's grandson, Raffaele Moi, told The Associated Press. Born Dec. 29, 1890, Frau witnessed the turn of two centuries from his farm near the mountain village of Orroli, in the heart of Sardinia.
He left his native island just once to serve in the military in World War I, for which he received a service medal.
Sardinia has a reputation for record-breaking longevity among its residents. Antonio Todde, who lived one town over from Frau, was considered the world's oldest man before his death in January 2002 just shy of his 113th birthday, according to Guinness World Records.
Sardinia also has the world's highest ratio of residents over the age of 100, according to Guinness.
"It must be something in our genes," Moi said, noting that he knew of at least 10 people in his village who had lived past the age of 100.
Guinness also lists Frau as the world's fourth oldest man, behind current leader Yukichi Chuganji, 114, of Japan.
The oldest person in the world is 115-year-old Kamato Hongo of Japan. She was born on Sept. 16, 1887.
Frau is survived by two sons and a daughter -- three of his eight children, Moi said. His wife died in 1995 at the age of 90.