She passed seamlessly from being the muse of the intense Michelangelo Antonioni, to becoming Italy's favourite comedienne in films such as 1973's hilarious Polvere di stelle, with Alberto Sordi.
She had a stunning screen persona which managed to combine physical beauty and perfect comic timing. Her husky voice when speaking or singing was unmistakable, and her wide-eyed stare into a camera revealed an actress courageous enough to let us see her soul.
Vitti's leading men included Marcello Mastroianni, Giancarlo Giannini, Alain Delon and Vittorio Gassman. Apart from her long collaboration with Antonioni she worked with directors such as Luis Buñuel, Ettore Scola and Mario Monicelli.
Vitti made only two English language films: Modesty Blaise (the 1966 James Bond spoof with Terence Stamp and Dirk Bogarde) and An Almost Perfect Affair (1979) with Keith Carradine.
Alzheimer's has removed her from the public gaze for the last 15 years, but friends say that she continues to enjoy life.
Buon compleanno to one of the very best!
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.