'Many men are overawed by my fame - but they do not interest me' - Nancy Dell'Olio
Published 30/01/2016 | 08:50
'I am a controversial personality. I understand I cannot be everyone's cup of tea, but that's not my problem," says Nancy Dell'Olio baldly. "I think people like me more than they dislike me."
Marmite or not, she is certainly not one to hold back.
The buxom Italian-British businesswoman, true to form dressed in a little black dress and knee-high boots, is fresh from an autumn stint performing a one-woman show about her own life.
"I have things to say, people like to listen to me, and it's a way for people to get to know me," she says unabashedly. "People can be judgemental, but I like the adrenaline of it."
You see, Nancy Dell'Olio is always Nancy Dell'Olio, whether that's on stage, performing ballroom on Strictly Come Dancing, gossiping on Celebrity Big Brother or at home in London, and she's grown used to the attention that brings.
"I knew I would be famous, even as a little child I knew how to 'work the room' and it is something that you can't buy. You have it or you don't, and I have it. From the age of four or five I was always the one who would create attention," she says.
"I always had this feeling [I'd be famous], so I was not surprised, but I was not expecting it in the way it was coming."
It all kicked off for her when she moved to Britain in 2001 with her then-partner, Sven Goran-Eriksson, who at the time was managing the England football team. The relationship fell apart after Goran-Eriksson had several high-profile affairs.
Despite the fame and self- exposure she enjoys, and the public break-ups, Dell'Olio says she still tries "to keep my personal life as private as possible to keep people guessing", but admits: "There is no-one special in my life now.
"I think I have been a few times deeply in love, I believe so," she says.
"Love changes, and in different stages in your life. Love would be terrible if it was always the same when we are 15 or 20 or 30 or 40. Love has to change because we want different emotions and love at different times and different moments."
Now 54, she would like to meet someone, but being alone doesn't worry her too much.
"I enjoy what I am doing and I treasure my space," she says.
"I call my state of mind 'single with some interruptions', but it is a wonderful gift to have a partnership. When I see that with other people, I recognise it is a great gift, and one day I hope to find the right person."
On what would constitute the right person, she says: "What is important for me is desire.
"I want someone who meets my needs and is on my frequency," she adds, noting that, "many men are overawed by my celebrity and fame, but then of course, they are not interesting to me.
"It is not my problem, if they can't cope with who I am, then there you go. So I always look for men who are very confident, very strong, that can have fun."
She has no regrets about not marrying previously or about not having children.
"People think to have a family is easy and they do it without any consciousness," she says.
"I have no regrets because it's my conscious choice and I think I made the right decision. I thought at one point of adoption, but there were so many things which put me off. But it is a wonderful thing to do; there are so many children who need to have a family."
Formerly a lawyer, Dell'Olio is now a public affairs consultant, and has previously said she'd make a great president of the United States. She was born in New York, so technically she could run for the job...
"Why wouldn't I want to be president?!" she says.
"Actually, I probably would have so much headaches doing that job."
The White House might not be her next residence, but it shows just how highly she values ambition.
"There is space for adjustment and to make improvements - life is a journey and there is always a new beginning and so you never arrive, you are always striving," she says.
"There are things I need still to learn and discover, and there will be things I will never achieve, but I keep trying."
Health-wise, although she doesn't work out as much as she'd like, she does practise yoga and walks a lot.
When it comes to her mental well-being, her "resolution is not to be too busy", and to "meditate and chill-out by reading or closing your eyes, and listen to silence at the end of the day; I always have a few moments listening to silence".
That doesn't mean Dell'Olio ever cuts down on the glamour she's so synonymous with though.
"I always wear make up," she states, and considers glamour to be a state of mind. "Even when I chill, I always want to be elegant, and I want to be elegant in attitude. I am always me, there is no other side," she says.
She describes herself as "an extremely warm person, very passionate" - and isn't afraid to admit she's not the most straightforward of characters, but then, that's exactly what makes her so engaging and charismatic.
"I can be difficult because I am extremely intelligent, which doesn't make life easy, but I am happy to be that way," she says.
"I can make life complicated - I have high standards for myself and I can overthink things. I find it difficult to let things go. If you are intelligent, you are aware of what is happening, but it doesn't mean you don't make mistakes.
"I am quite funny. I can be difficult because I know at this point in my life what I want and what I don't want.
"I am a very strong woman with a lot of courage. You can't give yourself charisma or courage - you have these things. I am quite proud of this. But the world is sexist and we have to be strong women to try to overcome this.
"If you are attractive and sexy and opinionated, some people - including many men - struggle with this. It is just the way it is."
Does she think the world gets her wrong sometimes?
"The media always want to label you - let's face it, the world is full of boring people, but the one thing you can say about me is I'm not boring!
"If I was the shallow person that they sometimes try to portray me as, I would not have lasted."