In the town of Varese in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, Ileana Caravati was born on 23rd September 1956 to a successful family of local merchants. With her lustrous dark hair, flawless olive skin and athletic physique, Ileana’s stunning looks and the fact that the region’s capital Milan was one of the world’s most fashionable cities, prompted her to go into modelling. At the age of 18, she entered the Miss Italia contest, where she won second place and earned the title ‘Miss Elegance.’
As a result of the competition, Ileana caught the eye of film producer Franco Cristaldi, whose company Vides Cinematografica had produced numerous successful Italian documentaries and films since its formation in 1946. In 1975, after changing her name to Lilli Carati, Ileana appeared in her first film Di che segno sei? Similar erotically charged offerings such as La professoressa di scienze naturali and L’avvocato della mala followed.
It was the 1978 film Avere vent’anni directed by Ferdinando Di Leo, and her raunchy performance alongside fellow Italian starlet, Gloria Guida, which made Carati a national sex symbol. In Avere vent’anni, Carati and Guida played two young women who leave home to seek adventure and sexual freedom, hitchhiking to Rome to join a Hippie commune before descending into a dark world of prostitution and gang violence. The film was heavily censored before its release in cinemas across Europe due to its explicit scenes, including a brief carnal encounter between the two lead actresses.
Above: A scene from Avere vent’anni (1978) Continue reading