Photo: Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Silvio Berlusconi sought to draw a line under his “bunga bunga” parties when he announced he was engaged to his girlfriend 50 years his junior, who makes him feel “less lonely.”In a wide-ranging interview aired on the talk show “Domenica Live” on his Canale 5 TV network, the 76-year-old billionaire said he was engaged to Francesca Pascale, his 27-year old girlfriend.
“Finally I feel less lonely,” Mr Berlusconi said. “I am engaged to a Neapolitan, it’s official.
“She is 27 years old, with very solid values, beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside.
“She is very close to me, she loves me very much and I feel the same. My daughter Marina appreciates her and loves her very much too.”
Mr Berlusconi does not appear to have let his second marriage get in the way of his engagement announcement.
He has five children from two marriages but is yet to reach agreement with Veronica Lario on the terms of their divorce. Recent media reports suggest no agreement has been reached on the settlement. His first wife was Carla Elvira Dall’Oglio, whom he was married to from 1965 to 1985. He married Ms Lario in 1990.
Mr Berlusconi plans to launch his fourth bid to be prime minister in elections expected to be held in February next year unless the current technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti decides to run for office.
The tycoon also used Sunday’s interview to lash out at the Milan trial where he is fighting charges that he paid for sex with an under-age prostitute, the then 17-year-old exotic dancer, Karima El-Mahroug, better known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer.”
Mr Berlusconi and she have denied the charges.
Asked about the so-called “bunga bunga” parties, he said: “It was a time when I felt very lonely. I had just got divorced, my sister had died.
“Then someone said: ‘Why don’t we organise some soirées?’ I was tricked.”
Describing the Ruby trial as an “incredible machination,” he added: “It was an excuse to put in place a giant operation for defamation against me and against the Italian government, including on an international level.
“Politicians get used to all kinds of slights after 20 years in politics. But there is one thing that cries out for vengeance before God and before man. I have been sentenced by a panel of judges in Milan!”
There have been rumours about his latest relationship for months and the couple was photographed together recently while watching Mr Berlusconi’s football team, AC Milan.
The romance was confirmed by one of the media tycoon’s most vocal supporters, Daniela Santanche, an MP in his People of Freedom (PDL) party, and one Italian newspaper recently described her as Italy’s new “first lady.”
A former shop assistant, Miss Pascale served as a provincial councillor in Mr Berlusconi’s centre-Right PDL party until she stepped down in July.
She was one of the founding members of a Berlusconi support group called “Silvio, we miss you.”
“Little by little she worked in my political organisation, then close to me,” he said. “She is a great friend of Marina’s.” Marina, 46, is the oldest daughter of Mr Berlusconi.
Mr Berlusconi’s fiancée has said that her life revolves around three things – her family, politics, and him – and is said to be jealous of other women in his inner circle, including Mara Carfagna, a glamour model whom he appointed equal opportunities minister in his last government.
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