In reading about the Italian singer Francesco Di Giacomo, I found that the English Wikipedia lists his life as "(22 August 1947 – 21 February 2014)" and claims, logically enough, that he died aged 66.

However, the article cited claims that he died aged 67. I don't speak Italian, but as far as I can tell "67 anni" is pretty unambiguous.

Looking deeper, I can only seem to find Italian articles listing his age at death as 67. Here are some examples.

The Italian Wikipedia lists an age of 66 and cites two articles. The only one of those with an age is this one (published in February 2014), which lists his date of birth as "22 agosto 1947", but goes on to say that he was aged 67, seemingly contradicting itself.

Are all of these publications mistaken, or is there a cultural difference here that I have been unable to discover by searching in English - for instance, age being counted by the number of calendar years since birth, rather than actual years? I find it especially hard to believe that the last article could list his date of birth and then give an incorrect age in the next sentence.

  • 4
    No, it's just that the world – and especially Italian newspapers – is full of lazy people. A lazy person just subtracts the birth year from the death year, without bothering about months – or more likely copies from someone who did that subtraction before.
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 22, 2022 at 23:36
  • 1
    I appreciate the input. Without any familiarity with Italian culture it is impossible for me to judge whether this is indeed a simple miscalculation, but if you can't see another explanation then it must be so. That one abuse of arithmetic can propagate itself across such disparate publications certainly illustrates the importance of doing one's own research.
    – Egg-Fault
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 1:03
  • We in Italy use to say "I have xx years" starting exactly from the birthday day, not before. One can say "I have 20 years" and that means "I have lived for 20 full years". Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 11:25
  • @linuxfansaysReinstateMonica I believe this is true for you and many Italians like you, but it cannot be so generalized to everybody. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 13:52
  • 1
    @GiuseppeRomanazzi you are true, everybody can say everything. But the majority of the people, when speaking seriously, and the italian law, work like I said. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


About why the cited sources gave 67 as his age at death, there is more than one possibility.

  1. Maybe they just didn't know (and didn't care to search for) the day of his birth.
  2. They rounded up his age to the nearest integer.
  3. They used the Chinese way to calculate the age 😆

Actual Age vs. Nearest Age

In support of point 2, it's common practice for both Italian and foreign insurance companies to distinguish between "Actual Age" and "Nearest Age". In order to calculate your life insurance premium, for example, a lot of insurance companies will round up your age to the nearest birthday.

Answers to "How old are you?"

There is no rule about this, but a lot of people, me included, don't wait until birthday to say that they are one year older. This is true expecially if they are young. On the contrary, the older the age the more people would not tell they are one year older until the last second before birthday. Besides, it's not rare to add the word "compiuti" (turned) or "non ancora compiuti" (not yet turned) to one's age. And due to this habit, if you just say "ho 20 anni" (I'm 20) you may also hear somebody asking you "compiuti?" (already turned?)

In the case of Francesco Di Giacomo, his nearest birthday was the 67ᵗʰ (183 days from 22 August 2013, 182 days to 22 August 2014).

Just for fun

The funniest way I encountered to answer the question "How old are you?" is the one of a dear friend who, when he was 60, used to answer this way:

40 ... to 100!

And when the next year he turned 61:

39 ... to 100!

He says that each passing year he feels younger.😁


As you have suggested and as has been suggested in the comments, there is no ambiguity. Di Giacomo died aged 66, and the article should have said so.

That being said, it is not uncommon in everyday spoken language to "round up" to one's closest birthday when asked what one's age is. If were to queried on my current age with the question "quanti anni hai?" and I were to be turning, say, 35 in the upcoming month, I'd be tempted to say 35 instead of 34. How close one's upcoming birthday has to be for this rounding to happen is mostly a matter of personal preference.

In some cases, the opposite rule of thumb might apply in the same circumstance (e.g. when not wanting to admit that you'll be turning 30 soon because of how loaded the number is).

  • Yes, but unless one has some reason to lie or be approximative, probably they'd say (in your example) Ho quasi 35 anni (I'm almost 35).
    – DaG
    Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 13:19
  • 1
    @DaG Not necessarily. As Easymode44 said, in my experience as well I've seen that it's not at all uncommon to round up the age. Commented Feb 23, 2022 at 13:39

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