Monica Vitti: a female icon of Italian cinema

A few days ago we heard the sad news of the loss of an icon of Italian cinema, Monica Vitti. The Roman actress had abandoned public life in the mid-90s, but her 40-year career has marked the history of Italian cinema.

She graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome in 1953. She made her theatre debut working with the company of Sergio Tofano, with whom she played in works by Shakespeare and Molière. It is in this period, as she herself explained in an interview with Oriana Fallaci, that Maria Luisa Ceciarelli changed her name in Monica Vitti, at the request of Tofano.

At the beginning of the 1960s she met the recorder Michelangelo Antonioni, who saw her acting on the stage of her Feydeau, the attendant Dorian Gray in The Cry. Vitti became the undisputed protagonist of her four most important films: L’avventura (1960), La notte (1961), L’eclisse (1962) and Deserto rosso (1964), where she played the roles of four complex women. It is a series of films that will be called “tetralogy of alienation”.

Speaking of her relationship with Antonioni, however, she said that when she met him she was about to marry a young architect. “I was so convinced that my boyfriend was the man of my life, I was so sure I loved him that, for years, I did not forgive Michele for making me understand this terrible thing: that love ends”. And, in fact, in the 70s she entered into a relationship with the director Carlo Di Palma and, later, she met Roberto Russo, whom she will marry in 2000, after 27 years of engagement.

She died at the age of 90. Italian prime minister Mario Draghi expressed his “deep grief” for the death of Vitti, describing her as an “actress of great irony and extraordinary talent that has conquered generations of Italians with her spirit, her skills, her beauty.”

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