Sophia Loren is one of the greatest beauties the world has ever known. You cannot dispute her beauty but as time goes on people seem to forget her talent and taste as well. She won well over 50 awards during her career including an Academy Award for the film Two Women in 1961 and an Academy Honorary Award in 1991. Sofia Villani Scicolone was born in Rome in 1934 but was raised by her mother in Pozzuoli on the Bay of Naples, which at the time was described as "perhaps the most squalid city in Italy." A rich child she was most definitely not - in fact she shared a bedroom with eight other people growing up. Ironically, even though her beauty later defined her, as a girl her wet nurse remembered her as "the ugliest child I ever saw in my life."
At 14 everything changed and she blossomed into the beauty she would become known for. She began her career in film in 1951 as an extra and slowly worked her way from bit parts to leading roles. She was not only a star on film but in her personal life as well. She was married to the same man, Carlo Ponti, for 50 years. Of that relationship, she has said the the secret was maintaining a low profile despite their celebrity status. "Show business is what we do, not what we are,". When asked if she would ever marry again after his death, she said, ”No, never again. It would be impossible to love anyone else”.
These photos were taken in the summer of 1964, by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt who visited Sophia in Rome at the house that she shared with her husband Carlo. He was very much alive and they were very much in love. When Ponti and Loren married in 1957, he promised her “the most beautiful house in the world.” and this is that house. The 16th century villa is spectacular and boasted 50 stunning rooms, including a grand guest house, pool house and extensive grounds.
This is a wonderful glimpse into the life of a girl who, despite her humble beginnings, became an enduring icon and woman of exquisite taste.