17/12/2012 04:35 GMT

Berlusconi Engaged To 27-Year-Old Francesca Pascale

Silvio Berlusconi is hanging up his Bunga-Bunga heels to take his 27-year-old fiance down the aisle, announcing an engagement which makes him feel "less lonely."

The former Italian Prime Minister, 76, admitted the age gap of almost 50 years was "a little excessive" but told Canale 5 TV network that Francesca Pascale was a beautiful person both inside and out.

fransesca pscale

Francesca Pascale, who worked as a provincial councillor in Berlusconi's party

He told the TV channel, which he owns: "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," according to the Daily Telegraph.

Berlusconi has been married twice and has five children. He told the TV network his eldest daughter, Marina, wh is 46, likes Francesca very much.


Bunga no longa? Berlusconi will run for election with Francesca by his side

Francesca is a former shop assistant from Naples and met Berlusconi whilst working as a councillor in his Freedom of the People party (PDL). Berlusconi said their relationship developed slowly, adding: "little by little she worked in my political organisation, then close to me"

However now she has stepped down from her position within the the PDL and is being described in the Italian press as the "the new first lady," now that Berlusconi has announced he will be running for power in 2013.


Berlusconi and his wife-to-be

Speculation in Italian media suggested his new partnership might be an attempt to drum up support ahead of a re-election bid. The former three-term prime minister's career was dogged by court battles and sex scandals, including allegations he slept with an 18-year-old belly dancer nicknamed "Ruby the heart-stealer", a claim both parties deny.

Notorious for his voracious sexual appetite, in September 2011 he was revealed to have said : "Last night I had a queue outside the door of the bedroom. There were 11 ... I only did eight because I could not do it anymore".

However he was more modest on other occasions, responding to allegations that he entertained prostitutes at his villa with the classic excuse: "Even though I am a little mischievous ... 33 girls in two months seems like too much even for a 30-year-old."

Berlusconi resigned from office in 2011 over tax evasion charges. He was sentenced to four years in jail and barred from holding political office for three years.

However it is unlikely he will ever actually see the inside of a jail as under Italian law no one older than 70 can be sent to prison and it is unclear what effect the ban would have on his return to power.

In 2009 Berlusconi estimated that in the last twenty years he had made 2,500 court appearances in 106 trials, and spent more than 200m euros on legal fees fighting accusations of false accounting, tax evasion and bribery of a judge.