The decade-long romantic relationship between Italy's octogenarian former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and 34-year-old Francesca Pascale is over, daily Il Giornale said on Wednesday. “There is no romantic relationship [between Berlusconi and Pascale] and they are not a couple,” the Berlusconi family-owned newspaper quoted the former prime minister's staff as saying in a press release. “A friendship and fond relationship carries on between President Silvio Berlusconi and Mrs Francesca Pascale,” the release added. Italy probes mystery death of Berlusconi sex trial witness The statement followed an article by women's weekly Diva e Donna showing the 83-year-old with a woman identified by Italian media as 30-year-old Forza Italia lawmaker Marta Fascina. Pascale, who is 49 years younger than Berlusconi, has made headlines through the years for speaking her mind on issues not normally associated with the former prime minister, including gay rights. Last year she endorsed the “Sardines”, a civic movement which started to combat the rising popularity of far-right party the League, a Forza Italia ally. Rejuvenated Berlusconi tries putting ‘bunga bunga’ behind him Berlusconi, whose political career has been mired in corruption allegations and sex scandals, has recently been battling with health problems. He had an open-heart operation in 2016 and in 2019 he twice underwent surgery for an inguinal hernia and a bowel obstruction.