- REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi recently announced his engagement to Francesca Pascale, and the controversial politician admits that their nearly 50-year age gap is "a little excessive."
Berlusconi, 76, is planning to wed Pascale, a 27-year-old TV showgirl, despite having married twice before. He explained that their engagement has made him to feel less alone.
"It's official, I have got engaged to Francesca Pascale and finally I feel less lonely," Berlusconi recently told Canale 5 TV network.
"There is a 49 year age difference between us. She is a beautiful girl on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside, of solid moral principles, she is very close to me, she loves me and I feel the same way," he went on, adding "She is a very good friend of my daughter Marina."
Pascale has been by Berlusconi's side since he announced his plans to run in Italy's upcoming general election. The pair allegedly met while she was working as a Councillor in his Freedom of the People party (PDL).
"Little by little she worked in my political organization, then close to me," he said.
The media tycoon, who became more renowned for his infamous "Bunga Bunga" parties than his policies while in office, has been embroiled in an ongoing sex scandal following claims that he had sex with an underage prostitute in 2010.
Berlusconi is accused of paying Moroccan belly dancer Karima El Mahroug for sex after she attended the parties as a 17-year-old girl. A number of others are also said to have received monetary gifts, jewelry and cars for attending.
Despite the serious claims, Pascale has stood by her fiancé and openly defended him in the media. Berlusconi vigorously denies the allegations.
"There was nothing illegal going on, they were just elegant dinners. It was a particular moment for me, I had just announced my divorce, my mother and my sister had just died," he told The Daily Telegraph. "I would go home and there was no-one there, I felt sad."