At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Simonetta Stefanelli – actress

Godfather star now designs bags and shoes


Simonetta Stefanelli, in a scene from Dino Risi's 1971 movie, In the Name of the Italian People
Simonetta Stefanelli, in a scene from Dino Risi's 1971
movie, In the Name of the Italian People
Simonetta Stefanelli, the actress and fashion designer, was born on this day in 1954 in Rome.

Stefanelli is perhaps best-known for her performance as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola.

She also made several films with her former husband, the actor and director Michele Placido.

The couple had three children together, Michelangelo, Brenno and Violante Placido, who is also an actress.

They divorced in 1994 and Stefanelli and her three children went to live in London for a short time.

Before appearing in The Godfather, Stefanelli had small roles in films guided by some of the top Italian directors, such as Gian Luigi Polidoro, Giulio Petroni, Marco Vicario and Dino Risi.

In 1972 she appeared in a German film for television, Di Sonne angreifen, 'The Sun Attack'.

Then came her role in The Godfather alongside Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Diane Keaton.  Her character is the first wife of Pacino's character, Michael Corleone, a local girl Michael marries while in hiding in Sicily, but is then murdered in a bomb attack of which her husband was the intended victim.

Apollonia also featured in the 1977 mini series The Godfather: A Novel for Television.

Stefanelli with her then-husband Michele Placido in a scene from the 1975 film Scandal in the Family
Stefanelli with her then-husband Michele Placido
in a scene from the 1975 film Scandal in the Family
Stefanelli once explained during an interview that she had refused a career in Hollywood to avoid being typecast and chose instead to continue her career in Italy.

She appeared in Peccati in famiglia ('Scandal in the Family'), an erotic drama in which she starred opposite her husband Michele Placido, and in Francesco Rosi’s Tre Fratelli ('Three Brothers).

She made her final appearance in Michele Placido’s film Le Amiche del cuore, ('Close friends') before ending her acting career in 1992.

Stefanelli continues to live in Rome and now owns a fashion store in the city, Simo Bloom, for which she designs bags and shoes.

Michele Placido, who is now 70, is well-known for playing the role of Corrado Cattani in the TV series La Piovra, which means 'The Octopus' in English, a reference to the many tentacles of the Mafia.

The actress Violante Placido, who is now 40, has many film and television credits to her name and is also a singer and song writer.

The 18th century Temple of Aesculapius is an attraction in the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome
The 18th century Temple of Aesculapius is an attraction
in the Villa Borghese gardens in Rome
Travel tip:

Stefanelli’s shop, Simo Bloom, is in Via Chiana in Rome to the north east of the Villa Borghese and its gardens on the Pincian Hill. The beautiful gardens were developed for Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V, starting in 1605. They were bought by the city of Rome and opened to the public in 1903.

Travel tip:

The Godfather's location scenes in Sicily were filmed in the towns of Savoca and Forza d’Agro near Taormina because the town of Corleone was considered too developed to be suitable. In Savoca you can see the church in which Michael and Apollonia (played by Stefanelli) were married and walk the route they took to the Bar Vitelli in the village’s main square where they went to celebrate afterwards in the film.

More reading:


How playing an anti-Mafia police inspector Michele Placido into a TV star

Nino Rota - the brilliant composer behind the music of The Godfather

The wonderful cinema legacy of Francesco Rosi


Also on this day:

1957: Death of the great tenor Beniamino Gigli

(Picture credits: Simonetta Stefanelli by Cavarrone; Temple of Aesculapius by Jean-Christophe Benoist; via Wikimedia Commons)

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