She was born Sofia Villani in Rome on September 20, 1934, to an unmarried couple--Romilda Villani, an actress... and Riccardo Scicolone, a handsome engineer...Donohue, page 2:
One night when the still-teenage Sofia was dining out with friends, a judge for a beauty contest... asked her to enter the contest. That judge was the successful producer Carlo Ponti... Loren and the married but separated Ponti were soon a couple, ultimately finding themselves up against Italian law and the Roman Catholic Church in their attempt to marry. In the end, Giuliana Fiastri--Mrs. Ponti--would be the one to find a solution: all three parties would become French citizens, allowing the Pontis to divorce, and Sophia and Carlo to marry.Hollis Alpert, Fellini: A Life, Atheneum: New York (1986), page 119:
When Fellini returned from America in November 1957, he decided that Journey with Anita would be his next film project, and immediately began negotiations with Sophia Loren to play Anita... Negotiations with Loren ground to a halt, mainly because she was far from preoccupied with the problems resulting from her marriage to Carlo Poni, which was regarded in Italy as illegal. (Ponti's divorce had not been recognized by the church.)John Baxter, Fellini: The Biography, St. Martin's Press: New York (1993), page 185:
The spa's guests are an anthology of coded personal references. Mezzabotta and his mistress, waiting out an annulment (since divorce was still illegal in 1963), are based on Carlo Ponti and Sophia Loren, often seen moping around Italy at the time while they struggled with the law and the Church to marry.