Sora Lella: Rome remembers Elena Fabrizi

“Sora Lella” was born on this day in 1915.

Elena Fabrizi, popularly known as Sora Lella, was an Italian actress, cook, restaurateur, television personality and legendary Roman character.

Born in the Campo de’ Fiori area of central Rome on 17 June 1915, Elena was a younger sister of the actor Aldo Fabrizi whose footsteps she would follow in later life into the world of cinema.

Cooking was her true passion however and when her husband Renato Trabalza opened a restaurant on Tiber Island in 1959 he christened it with her nickname, Sora Lella.

Her mother Angela ran a fruit and vegetable stand in Campo de’ Fiori while her husband worked at Rome’s abattoir, with the “quinto quarto” or fifth quarter, a fundamental of Roman cuisine, among Sora Lella’s specialities.

Elena Fabrizi (1915-1993)

In the late 1950s she began playing minor roles in films however her acting career took off in the early 1980s after Carlo Verdone cast her in a series of movies in the celebrated role of a kind-hearted, no-nonsense grandmother.

She won a number of awards, notably in 1984 when she received a David di Donatello for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Verdone’s film Acqua e sapone.

A regular guest on Italian TV shows and a life-long Lazio fan, Sora Lella died on 9 August 1993 at the Fatebenefratelli hospital on Tiber Island, a stone’s throw from her restaurant which is run today by her grandchildren.