A picture taken on Oct. 27 shows Francesca Pascale at villa Gernetto in Lesmo, near Monza, Italy.
ROME — Silvio Berlusconi, the disgraced former prime minister of Italy who became infamous for hosting "bunga bunga" sex parties, has announced a relationship with a politician 49 years his junior as he seeks to return to power despite facing an underage prostitution trial.
The billionaire former leader told television viewers Sunday he is now in a steady relationship with Francesca Pascale, a 27-year-old political councilor in his People of Freedom Party.
"Finally I feel less lonely," he said, adding: "She is 27 years old, with very solid values, beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside.”
Pascale bears a striking resemblance to Berlusconi’s ex-wife, Veronica Lario, who left him in 2009 after accusing him of consorting with minors.
He was forced to resign in November 2011 when it became clear he could not deal with Italy’s economic crisis, but nevertheless Berlusconi made a surprise announcement last week that he will be seeking a fourth term as prime minister in the government elections in late February.
Scandals and notoriety
Berlusconi has been at the center of countless scandals and gained worldwide notoriety as the host of the so-called "bunga bunga" parties, private dinners that allegedly led to sexy shows performed by his young and attractive guests.
He is also a defendant in a trial over allegations that he paid an escort known as “Ruby the heart-stealer” in exchange for sex when she was still a minor.
Silvio Berlusconi and Francesca Pascale attend a soccer match on Dec. 4 in Milan.
A judge on Monday set the date for the final hearing of that trial in early February, making a verdict possible before the elections.
Should Berlusconi win, Italy’s new first lady will be one-third the prime minister's.
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