Global media reports that the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced his engagement to his 28-year-old girlfriend on one of his TV Channels on Sunday, have been dismissed by native Italians who say Berlusconi has been mis-translated.
Various newspapers have reported that Berlusconi is to get married for the third time, when in fact he announced that he is in love and in a relationship.
In an interview on Sunday talk show program "Domenica Live" broadcast on Canale 5, a channel that's part of Berlusconi's Mediaset empire, Berlusconi was reported to have revealed that he has gotten "engaged" to his girlfriend Francesca Pascale, a Neapolitan woman almost 50 years his junior.
"I'm engaged. It's official," newspapers and English-speaking media reported Berlusconi as saying.
Lost in Translation
Berlusconi is not getting married, however. His words,"Mi sono fidanzato" from the verb "fidanzarsi", to get engaged, have been mistranslated. Commonly, Italians use the verb to announce serious relationships as Berlusconi has done.
Professor of Modern Italian History at University College London (UCL), John Foot, told CNBC that Pascale is a"girlfriend, nothing more."
"In Italy the phrase 'Mi sono fidanzato' usually means 'I have a girlfriend or boyfriend' and not 'I am engaged to be married'. This can cause confusion abroad but is pretty clear in the Italian context," he told CNBC.
Technically, Berlusconi is still married to second wife Veronica Lario, with whom the terms of divorce are still being negotiated, according to Italian media. His estranged wife Lario, herself 21 years younger than Berlusconi, announced in 2009 that she was divorcing the politician and media baron, fed up with Berlusconi's infatuation with young women.
In the interview on Sunday, Bersluconi said the new love of his life, Pascale, had saved him from loneliness.
"She's beautiful inside and even more beautiful on the outside, she has very strong morals, a happy personality...She loves me and Iove her," Berlusconi said.
"We've known each other for seven years," he added, conceding that the age gap of 49 years was "a little excessive."
Berlusconi said that Francesca Pascale had initially been the president of a "Silvio, We Miss You" fan club, after the prime minister had stepped down from public office following scandals in his personal and public life. He said he had become close to Pascale after her involvement in political work.
"Little by little she worked in my political organisation, then close to me and Igot to know her."
"Finally, I feel less lonely," Berlusconi added, saying that his daughter Marina, who's a 46 year-old businesswoman, was "good friends" with his fiancee.
Berlusconi is currently fighting charges that he paid for sex with an under-age prostitute, the exotic dancer Ruby El-Mahroug (now known as "Ruby Rubacuori" – Ruby the Heart Stealer). He used Sunday's television interview to describe the trial in Milan as a plot - an "incredible machination" he said- that was part of a process of defamation.
"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."
Asked about his now infamous "bunga-bunga" sex parties, Berlusconi said that he was trickedinto participating. "It was a time whenI felt very lonely. I had just got divorced, my sister had died…Then someonesaid: 'Why don't we organise some soires?' I was tricked."
Berlusconi added that he was still planning on running in the 2013 elections, but would withdraw if technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, decided to run for office.