La Lollobrigida revisits stardom with sculpture show
Italian movie icon Gina Lollobrigida will be flashing her artistic talents in this Tuscan town, with an exhibition devoted to her sculpture.
Pietrasanta, a coastal town north of Lucca, is to showcase 30 bronze, marble and plastic sculptures by the actress.
The pieces will go on display later this month in the 14th-century Sant'Agostino Church, now an exhibition space, as well as outdoors in the central Piazza del Duomo.
The collection, the result of over ten years' work, is clearly inspired by the 81-year-old star's cinema career.
Many of the sculptures are portraits of her most famous screen characters.
A five-metre-high bronze statue, completed in 2002, will hold pride of place in Piazza Del Duomo. This depicts La Lollo as the gypsy Esmeralda opposite Anthony Quinn's Quasimodo in the 1957 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
A marble statue recalls the role that first won her international acclaim, the headstrong ''La Bersagliera'' in Pane Amore e Fantasia (1953).
Another marble piece 'La Amica' pays tribute to Lollobrigida's friendship with Marilyn Monroe while living in Hollywood.
But the exhibit also highlights the Italian's concern with the wider world, with a piece entitled Il Mondo per i Bambini (The World for the Children), recalling her years of work with UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.
This is not the first exhibit of sculpture by La Lollo, who is an honorary citizen of Pietrasanta where she has had an artist's studio for the last ten years.
A travelling collection of her work wrapped up with an exhibition in Moscow's Pushkin Museum in 2003.
But while her sculpting talents have only come to public light in recent decades, La Lollo has had a lifelong passion for art.
As a young woman, she set her heart on an artistic career, winning a valuable scholarship to study sculpture and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, before turning to acting.
In April 2000 she told Parade magazine that she ''studied painting and sculpture at school and became an actress by mistake''.
In 1992 she represented Italy at the Seville Expo with a sculpture entitled Living Together, showing a child on an eagle, intended to represent harmony between humankind and nature.
Then French president, Francois Mitterrand, complimented her on the piece, later awarding her the Legion of Honour for artistic merit.
Gina Lollobrigida was born in 1927 in Subiaco, a town near Rome. She first came to the attention of Italian film directors as a beauty queen, after coming third in the 1947 Miss Italy competition.
Her Hollywood breakout film was the 1953 John Houston movie Beat the Devil although today she is still best known for the ''Pane, Amore...'' series
She rose to fame on the back of her prototype Latin beauty and her short ''tossed salad'' hairstyle. A kind of curly lettuce was even named ''Lollo'' in her honour.
In the 1970s she drifted away from acting but became a highly successful photographer and photojournalist, once scooping an exclusive interview with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
The exhibition runs in Pietrasanta from September 20 until November 16, after which it will tour the US.