Italian actress Sophia Loren, left, holds the hand of late director Ettore Scola's wife Gigliola, during the funeral chamber to commemorate Scola, set up at the Casa del Cinema, in Rome, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016. Scola, one of the last greats of Italian film, died late Tuesday at a Rome hospital at the age of 84. Scola was perhaps best known for "We All Loved Each Other So Much," his 1977 tableau about post-war Italy, and the Oscar-nominated "A Special Day" featuring Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren as neighbors who meet during Hitler's visit to Italy in 1938. (Massimo Percossi/ANSA via AP) ITALY OUT Image Credit: AP

A tearful Sophia Loren on Thursday led a string of Italian cinema luminaries paying their last respects to legendary film director Ettore Scola, who died this week.

Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino was also among those who visited Rome’s Casa del Cinema, where Scola’s coffin was placed to allow mourners to say their final farewells before a funeral restricted to friends and family on Friday.

“I’m too choked up to talk,” Loren, 81, told reporters. The veteran actress starred alongside Marcello Mastroianni in 1977’s A Special Day, one of Scola’s most acclaimed films.

Scriptwriter Enrico Vanzina told AFPTV that Scola, who died on Tuesday at the age of 84, was a master storyteller.

“He explained to us that you can use comedy to tell any story; politics, history, love,” Vanzina said.

“Comedy is a very important genre, it is perhaps the most important in Italian cinema. He was one of the most important, among only a handful of real greats”.

Fabrizio Luccherini, another Italian scriptwriter, said he would be forever in the late director’s debt.

“He was someone that gave me a huge amount. He worked right up until the end, on a documentary about [Italian film director Federico] Fellini. You could never say no to Ettore.”

Antonio Bassolino, a former mayor of Naples and friend of Scola’s, added: “A precious part of Italian history is now gone. We have lost one of the last Italian greats”.