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The Conversation: We catch up with Nancy Dell'Olio

By Veronica Lee

The Italian-American lawyer (53) has appeared on shows such as Footballers' Cribs and Strictly Come Dancing and was in a relationship with former England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

My mother says I always wanted to be famous

There are certainly times when it's fun and I enjoy it, but not always. Sometimes it's nice to walk down the street and be recognised but other times I would like to be invisible.

People might think they know me, but the don't really

My show at the Edinburgh Fringe is a chance for people to get close to me. The chance to be direct is appealing because there is always an interpreter between me and whoever is reading what is written about me. There are things in the show that people might be surprised by. Some are quite dramatic, some sad, some things make them laugh. I think I'm quite funny.

The British tabloids are unique

Whatever they say, it's probably not true. One day you're the best person in the world, the next you are the worst, so I have always had to detach myself from them as nothing is real. I am quite a sensitive person, so some of the things written about me were very upsetting.

We can always improve who we are

We have a journey to go through in life; it doesn't give us all we want but it does show us the next step. Having regrets is useless because they don't take us anywhere. It is better to love and to move on than to be bitter.

I'm reflecting on what I want to do next

Do I want to be in entertainment, or go back to practising civil-rights law, or continue to develop my entrepreneurial side, or maybe even run for political office? Maybe doing the show will help me work that out.

I'm spiritual but not religious

I was brought up Catholic, but that was my mother's religion and I will not define myself by it. I like to study the history of religions and recently I've discovered the power of praying.

There's still so much to do on women's issues

We live in a world that's sexist and misogynistic, not to mention ageist, and a lot of violence against women is because many men feel that women have taken their place in society. I am not in competition with men; all I ask is that they respect me.

I would not walk out he door without dressing properly and putting on make-up

I was with my family in Italy recently and my mother pointed out that I changed four times in a day, which I had to laugh at as it was true. But I don't necessarily spend a lot of money on how I look – today I'm wearing a simple outfit and while some of it is expensive, the leggings I bought for £8 at a market. I do like a bargain.

I think of myself as a citizen of the world

I was born in New York, brought up in Italy, went back to New York to study and have lived in London for 13 years. I am a passionate European but do not believe in a federal Europe. I would define my politics as centrist, but I do not have any party affiliation because that is limiting. (Dell'Olio worked on Silvio Berlusconi's first campaign in 1994.)

I believe in fidelity

We can all make mistakes and there are some situations where we can stray, as monogamy is not a natural state. For me, I have to say, "How did that happen?" and make a choice to stay or go with another person, as I did (when I left) my husband (Giancarlo Mazza, whom she left for Sven-Goran Eriksson in 1998).

I like football now

I didn't like it when I met Sven-Goran, but my philosophy is what you can't change you must go along with. I like it because it's quite brainy, a mind game.

The plug

Nancy Dell'Olio's show, Rainbows from Diamonds, is at the Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, until August 24. For details, visit www.

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