Italian film icon Monica Vitti dies aged 90

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Roma (AFP) – Italian actress Monica Vitti, icon known for her starring roles in Michelangelo Antonioni’s films, has died at the age of 90, the Ministry of Culture announced on Wednesday.

“Goodbye Monica Vitti, goodbye queen of Italian cinema. Today is a truly sad day, we have lost a great artist and a great Italian,” Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement.

Vitti rose to international fame with the 1960 drama “L’Avventura” (“The Adventure”) in which she played a tormented woman who flirts with her missing friend’s lover.

Born in Rome on November 3, 1931, Vitti – real name Maria Luisa Ceciarelli – discovered her passion for theater during World War II, when she entertained her family with puppets to relieve boredom.

“As the bombs fell, when we had to take refuge in the shelters, my little brother and I improvised little plays to amuse those around us,” she would say years later.

A graduate of the National Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome in 1953, she began her career in the theatre, where she stood out for her comic talent.

She is spotted by Antonioni, with whom she quickly develops an artistic and sentimental relationship.

“I was lucky to start my career with a man of great talent”, but who was also “spiritual, full of life and enthusiasm”, Vitti said in an interview with Italian television in 1982.

Former Italian Culture Minister Walter Veltroni announced Vitti’s death with a tweet. He said he was asked to do so by Roberto Russo, Vitti’s husband, and expressed his “pain, affection and regret”.

The actress, who suffered from a degenerative disease, had retired from public life in recent years.