Emma Martina Luigia Morano was raised in Vercelli and was the oldest of eight siblings. Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted his congratulations to her.
An Italian doctor says Emma Morano, at 117 the world's oldest person, has died in her home in northern Italy. "They come from all over to see me", she said with an amused smile.
Italy was under a monarchy when Emma was young, yet she managed to see the monarchy fall in favor of a republic that produced nearly seventy governments during her life.
A parchment with the papal blessing hangs on a wall in Emma Morano's home in Verbania, Italy.
"She was slowly fading away", Dr Bava said. But past year Rosi Santoni, one of the relatives who helped look after her, said she had plenty of family to care for her and had many friends in the town.
She had only taken on a full-time carer a couple of years ago - but had not left her small two-room apartment for 20 years.
Bava has previously told the AP that Morano lost a son to crib death when he was six months old.
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Nobody could argue against Morano's will as she spent her life being mostly single, and mostly happy.
She "abandoned the husband in the fascist era, when women were supposed to be very submissive", Dr Bava said in a 2015 interview.
"She was always very decisive", he said.
Her last birthday was marked by a party and concert recounting her life - from her experiences during the first and second world wars to her work in a factory making jute sacks, and her decision to separate from an abusive husband at a time when such action was frowned upon.
Emma Morano goes into the record books as the fifth longest life ever verified.
She also defied health advice, Dr Bava said on Saturday. "For years, she has eaten the same thing every day, not much vegetables or fruit".
Researchers from Harvard Medical School visited her in 2014 as part of a study into immunity to diseases, the Italian news agency ANSA said.