ROME -- The Taormina Film Festival in Sicily on Thursday mourned James Gandolfini and prepared to pay tribute to the late actor, whose body lies in the morgue of Rome's Policlinico Umberto I hospital where, under Italian law, an autopsy must be performed within 24 hours of its arrival.
Some details began to surface Thursday about Gandolfini's death, while others remained unclear.
Italian news agency AGI reported that Gandolfini, who was travelling in Italy with his 13-year-old son Micheal, ahead of his scheduled June 22 on-stage conversation in Taormina, suffered what it said was a heart attack late on Wednesday in the bathroom of his Rome hotel. Gandolfini's son reportedly alerted hotel staff. The hour when the alleged heart attack occurred has not been specified.
Gandolfini was still alive when the ambulance arrived at the hotel, according to AGI.
But the coroner at Rome's Policlinico Umberto I, Antonio Spasola, confirmed reports that Gandolfini was dead when he arrived at the hospital's emergency room. Spasola, who spoke to Variety, declined to give a cause of death and the time of Gandolfini's arrival at the hospital. He said the autopsy will be performed on Saturday.
Once the U.S. Embassy in Rome issues a death certificate, Gandolfini's remains can be returned to the United States.
The U.S. embassy, which did not provide further details about his death, posted a statement on its website praising Gandolfini.
"James Gandolfini was an Italian-American, and has represented an excellent example of the deep cultural contribution made by Italians to American society," read the statement, issued in Italian.
Taormina artistic director Mario Sesti and general manager Tiziana Rocca on Thursday issued a joint statement saying they had spoken to Gandolfini just hours before he passed, and that he had told them he was very happy to be in Italy.
Gandolfini was scheduled to receive the City of Taormina award on Saturday, and also hold a conversation on the stage of the town's ancient Greek Theatre with Sesti, Marisa Tomei, and Italian director Gabriele Muccino. Instead, he will be fondly remembered on that stage by Variety executive editor Steven Gaydos.