Born Maria Luisa Ceciarelli in Rome, on 3 November 1931, Vitti became an Italian and world screen icon, the muse of dark 'incommunicability' maestro Michelangelo Antonioni and later partner of great comic actor Alberto Sordi.
Vitti, who starred in Antonioni's great existential-angst cycle L'avventura, La Notte, L'eclissi, and Deserto Rosso in the 1960s, boosted her range and acclaim in popular lighter, broader, bawdier and funnier fare by another cinema great, Mario Monicelli, and played opposite with comic great Sordi in several hits.
Among the male leads she played opposite were Marcello Mastroianni, Alain Delon, Richard Harris, Terence Stamp, Michael Caine, and Dirk Bogarde.
She won five David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress, seven Italian Golden Globes for Best Actress, the Career Golden Globe, and the Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Award.
A documentary by Fabrizio Corallo marking her birthday last November 3 featured comic actor and director Carlo Verdone saying "(Alberto) Sordi thought she was great, better than any other female lead, because of her proverbial timing, and he loved her too".
He added: "Ordinary people felt she was close to them, she had entered into everyone's hearts".
Vitti's other notable films include On My Way to the Crusades, I Met a Girl Who... (1967) with Tony Curtis, The Girl with a Pistol (1968) with Stanley Baker, The Bitch Wants Blood (1969) with Maurice Ronet, and Help Me, My Love (1969) with Sordi, Italy's most popular comic actor of his generation.
Vitti starred with Marcello Mastroianni in Ettore Scola's highly successful romantic comedy Dramma della gelosia (The Pizza Triangle, 1970).
She followed it with Nini' Tirabuscio' , la donna che invento' la mossa (1970), Le coppie (1970) with Sordi, The Pacifist (1970), La supertestimone (1971), That's How We Women Are (1971), and Orders Are Orders (1972).
Vitti was in a version of La Tosca (1973) and a comedy Teresa the Thief (1973). She made Polvere di stelle (1973), directed by Sordi, for which she won the 1974 David di Donatello award for Best Actress.
Vitti played a key part in one of the episodic vignettes in Luis Buñuel's The Phantom of Liberty (1974).
She did two films with Claudia Cardinale, The Immortal Bachelor (1975) and Blonde in Black Leather (1975).
She was in Duck in Orange Sauce (1975), Mimi' Bluette... fiore del mio giardino (1976), Basta che non si sappia in giro!..
(1977), L'altra meta' del cielo (1977), State Reasons (1978), Il cilindro (1978), Per vivere meglio, divertitevi con noi (1978), Amori miei (1978) and Tigers in Lipstick (1979) (with Ursula Andress).
Vitti's second English-language film was An Almost Perfect Affair (1979), directed by Michael Ritchie and co-starring Keith Carradine, which was set during the Cannes Film Festival.
In 2000, Vitti married Roberto Russo, with whom she had been in a relationship since 1973.
She made her last public appearance in 2002 at the Paris premiere of the stage-musical Notre-Dame de Paris.
In 2011, it was disclosed that Alzheimer's disease had "removed her from the public gaze for the last 15 years." In 2018, her husband confirmed she was still living at home with him in Rome and that he looked after her personally, with the assistance of a caregiver.