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Italy mourns Albertone


- Over 60,000 people queue all night to pay tribute to the great Italian actor whose funeral is tomorrow

Italy mourns Albertone

Over 60,000 people flocked to the historic Town Hall of Rome yesterday at 5 p.m. to greet the coffin bearing the body of Alberto Sordi for the official lying-in-state. They stood in respectful silence and queued for hours all night long, for the privilege of filing past the open coffin. Sordi’s funeral is scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday 27 February at the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran.
During his fifty-year-long career Sordi was one of the keenest observers of the vices and virtues of the average Italian-in-the-street.

No sooner had ANSA (the Italian equivalent of the Press Association) broke the news at 8.59 the reactions to the death of Alberto Sordi came flowing in from both the entertainment world and from Roman palaces of power. Hearing the sad news, the man in the street, for so many years the subject of Sordi’s intense study and interpretations, bowed his head for a moment. Romans joined the massed ranks of the Italian press outside Sordi’s beautiful Roman villa where they laid flowers and messages of condolence. Curiously, almost all the flowers were red and yellow: the colours of Sordi’s favourite football team, Roma.

The first to speak was the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, a friend and admirer of Sordi’s who spoke of "the immense sadness of the city and the country."
The Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi recalled "Sordi, the quintessential Italian and one of the most representative figures of 20th century Italy, especially when times were hard. That was when Sordi portrayed what Italians were really feeling." Fellow actor Nino Manfredi, a contemporary of Sordi’s, was moved to say: "We travelled a long road together, and I cannot say whether we were friends, companions or an indissoluble part of Italian memory that identifies itself in popular comedy". Mario Monicelli who directed Sordi in so many unforgettable films like La Grande Guerra and Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo said: "He was the greatest actor there was. " Carlo Verdone, long considered Sordi’s legitimate heir added: "Like nobody before him, Sordi represented and understood the last forty years of Italian history. "

Inevitably on occasions such as these, there is always one dissenter. This dubious honour went to Lega Parliamentarian Francesco Speroni: " Sordi is not the actor who symbolised all Italians. He represents a local reality: Roman culture."
Alberto Sordi’s body will lie in state as of 17.30 in the town hall in Rome and barring changes in plans, the funeral will now take place in the basilica of Saint John on Thursday morning at 10.00 after the central Roman church of Santa Maria del Popolo was found to be too small to contain the expected crowds.

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