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Italian cinema icon Monica Vitti dies at 90

The much-loved Italian actress had been out of the spotlight for two decades.

Legendary actress Monica Vitti, dubbed the "queen of Italian comedy", has died aged 90.

The news was announced on Twitter by former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni on the morning of Wednesday 2 January.

Italy's culture minister Dario Franceschini hailed Vitti as "the queen of Italian cinema" as well as "a great artist and a great Italian."

Vitti, whose career began in theatre in the 1950s before she burst onto the big screen, had long been out of the spotlight due to a serious degenerative illness.

Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome on 3 November 1931, the actress was best known for her roles in films directed by Michelangelo Antonioni in the 1960s, including La Notte (1961) in which she starred with Marcello Mastroianni, and L'Eclisse (1962) with Alain Delon.

Monica Vitti was known as the 'Queen of Italian comedy'

Vitti went on to become a star of Italian comedy, appearing alongside some of Italy's most famous performers, from Alberto Sordi to Ugo Tognazzi, Vittorio Gassman to Nino Manfredi.

She was paired with Mastroianni again in Ettore Scola's highly successful romantic comedy Dramma della gelosia (1970), before starring in Polvere di stelle (1973), directed by Sordi, for which she won a David di Donatello award.

Monica Vitti with her husband Roberto Russo

Over the course of her glittering career Vitti won seven Italian Golden Globes for Best Actress, five David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress, the Career Golden Globe and the Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Award.

In 2000 Vitti married Roberto Russo, with whom she had been in a relationship since 1973, and she made her last public appearance in 2002.

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