Lizzani jumped into the courtyard behind his home Saturday, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.
"It's a time of great sorrow and, I must say, there is very little desire to comment on," said fellow Italian director and screenwriter Ettore Scola.
Lizzani began working in the film industry following World War II as a film critic and screenwriter, the BBC reported.
He then went on to direct his own films, including the 1968 film "The Violent Four," for which he was given the best director award by the Academy of Italian Cinema.
Lizzani also headed the Venice Film Festival from 1979-1982. Paolo Baratta, president of the Biennale, a large-scale cultural event that includes the film festival, praised Lizzani's work.
"The Biennale is crying on the day of Carlo Lizzani's death," said Baratta. "He knew how to give the festival new energy. He knew how to create a nucleus of young students and experts that would represent in future years the true elite. The world of Italian cinema owes him a lot."
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who had known Lizzani for decades, also commended Lizzani for his contributions to "cinema, to culture and to the democratic development of our country."