Berlusconi alimony payments slashed to 1.4 million euro

(By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Monza, October 22 - Former premier Silvio Berlusconi's love life was back in the news Tuesday after an Italian court cut by more than half his massive monthly alimony payments to estranged wife Veronica Lario.

It is expected that Lario will appeal the decision by a court in the northern province of Monza that reduced her monthly alimony to 1.4 million euros from a previous award of three million per month set in December 2012.

Lario was married for 22 years and had three children with Berlusconi, 77, one of Italy's richest men and a three-time premier of the country.

The couple separated in 2009 and since the alimony award was announced three years later, Berlusconi has been fighting to have it reduced.

In April, Berlusconi lost an appeal in a Milan court against the three-million-euro monthly alimony payments, leading the ex-premier to denounce the "unreal" verdict from "feminist and Communist judges".

That left him one last appeal to a top court to cut the alimony.

But in the meantime, Berlusconi quietly launched a second case in July against the alimony payments, as well as a formal bid for a full divorce, in the court of Monza, leading to Tuesday's ruling.

Monza is in the province where Lario now lives, in one of the media tycoon's villas in the town of Macherio.

Berlusconi announced late last year that he intends to wed for the third time, and is engaged to Naples-born Francesca Pascale, a woman almost 50 years his junior.

In an interview published last month in Vanity Fair magazine's Italian edition Pascale, 28, says she fell for Berlusconi when she was still a teenager.

Pascale told the magazine that the couple will wed when his divorce from Lario becomes final.

Lario left Berlusconi after he attended the 18th birthday party of an aspiring starlet and friend in Naples in 2009, accusing him of consorting with minors.

The couple had been together for 30 years in total.

Following a three-year legal tussle between the separated couple, the courts awarded Lario 36 million euros a year but gave Berlusconi sole possession of his luxury villa outside Milan and his vast business empire.

The couple's marital ups and downs have been well publicized over the years.

A media firestorm lit up in 2007 when Lario demanded a public apology from her "flirtatious" husband in a public letter to the editor of the La Repubblica daily, which published the contents on the front page.

"I am asking for a public apology, given that I haven't received a private one," she wrote in the letter.

The pair made up after Berlusconi said sorry and presented her with an expensive birthday present, disguising himself as a dancing sheikh.

When Lario filed for divorce after Berlusconi's appearance at Neapolitan teen Noemi Letizia's birthday party, the ex-premier told the gossip magazine Chi that he regretted the end of his "love story".

He has since been convicted of paying for sex with an underaged prostitute named Ruby during highly publicized parties at his villa near Milan.

Berlusconi is appealing that conviction but meanwhile was banned from public office for two years by a court on Saturday over a tax-fraud conviction.

Former actress Lario, who was born Miriam Raffaela Bartolini, was Berlusconi's second wife.

Berlusconi was smitten after seeing her perform topless in a Milan play about a philandering husband called The Magnificent Cuckold in 1980.

Lario also had a bloody cameo in Italian horror master Dario Argento's 1982 film 'Tenebre' (Shadows) where she played a woman who had her hand chopped off and yelled for a few seconds as her wound bled.

The snippet was cut when the film aired on a Berlusconi-owned TV channel in 2004.

Lario and Berlusconi married in 1990 after the media tycoon left his first wife, with whom he has two children, both executives in his media empire.

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