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TODAY   |  April 03, 2013

Audrey Hepburn focused past ‘external,’ son says

Vanity Fair’s May issue is providing a detailed look at Audrey Hepburn’s years spent in Rome from a unique perspective: that of her youngest son. Luca Dotti speaks to TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about his mother, talking about the photographic “treasure” he discovered in Rome’s Reporters Association archives.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> in a moment. grace, charm, glamour, audrey hepburn remains as much an icon today as when she took her roman holiday . or wished for a breakfast at tiffany's.

>> don't you just love it?

>> reporter: in the may issue of " vanity fair " and in a new book, we get rare insight from her youngest son , luca dotti, when she left hollywood for the ancient streets of rome .

>> i think she still possessed a great deal of her movie star magic.

>> reporter: she embraced her new city and fashion style flawless as it was simple.

>> a woman wearing a scarf tied underneath her chin carrying her signature straw basket as a purse.

>> reporter: perhaps most surprising the revelation one of the most glamorous figures ever did not consider herself beautiful but rather a "good mixture of defects." neither those supposed defects nor an obsession with staying young were priorities for hepburn. she spent her time away from cameras and spent time with family and in africa working for the united states .

>> in today's world, fame is held up as such a value, and you think someone would take a break from it, do it so well and kind of be the architect of her own happiness in her own life.

>> reporter: audrey hepburn 's son, luca dotti is with us, coauthor of "audrey in rome ." luca , good morning, it's good to see you.

>> good morning, savannah.

>> as i understand it, in researching this book, you went to the archives of the reporters association in italy which had more than 2,000 photographs snapped casually on the street of your mother. were you surprised that there was this treasure trove ?

>> yes, a lot. i was expecting to find some treasures but not that many, and all these archives besides the reporters shot, they are nothing short of a treasure.

>> she always managed as we're seeing in the pictures to look absolutely flawless. was that just luck or do you think she expected to be photographed?

>> well, she was a professional, so in a way, she expected, but you know the beauty behind and the reason behind the book is precisely that, it's a middle step within the private life and the public life and that was the beauty of it, and of course the setting in rome helped a lot.

>> one revelation in the book you write that your mother never considered herself to be beautiful, and those of us who admire her find that couto be pretty shocking. what did she say about that?

>> well she didn't care that much about external beauty. she cared more about matters of the heart . of course, she was a woman, so she was, you know, she cared about looking good and all that stuff but she didn't mind getting -- i knew -- my mother had me when she was 40, so i knew her for the last 23 years, and she often, we often discussed that she didn't mind at all getting old and she always told me that life has its seasons, you know, so her mind was at ease on that, with that respect.

>> from these beautiful photographs we see that she was lovely in every season. luca dotti it's great to speak to you. thank you for being with us.

>> thank you.