Silvio Berlusconi's girlfriend has vanished from the politician's side in recent weeks, apparently the victim of voters' disapproval.
Francesca Pascale (27), pictured, was seen with him regularly at the start of his electoral campaign. She was photographed watching a football match with the 76-year-old and attended his family Christmas lunch.
However, her absence since December has prompted speculation she has been cast aside after surveys revealed Italians did not approve of his decision to date a woman nearly five decades younger than him.
Mr Berlusconi himself admitted on television that their age difference was "a little excessive".
The 'Corriere della Sera' newspaper has compared her disappearance to Alfred Hitchcock's film 'The Lady Vanishes'.
In December Mr Berlusconi described Ms Pascale as "beautiful on the outside and even more beautiful on the inside."
(© Independent News Service)