ROME -- The ongoing Chinese Culture Year in Italy will intensify cultural tourism and spread greater mutual awareness between the two countries, a senior Italian official says.
"It's an extremely important event for two main reasons. First it concerns two cultural powers like China and Italy who have decided to show together to the world who they really are," Mario Resca, director of the Culture Ministry, told Xinhua during a recent interview.
"Two big civilizations are still lasting after millenniums: the Chinese culture and the Italian, Roman culture, which are both able to create and spread art and culture products across the centuries. This is why we have developed an excellent partnership with China," he said.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Culture Year in Italy is a unique opportunity to develop cultural tourism market and boost reciprocal tourist flows. Cultural tourism is on the rise in China and finds a perfect destination in Italy, he said.
"Chinese tourists don't come here for beaches and resorts but to see the land, the culture and to discover the Italian lifestyles. Our goal is to motivate and support this approach," Resca said.
Resca said he believed that the Chinese Culture Year in Italy offered to Italians the possibility to better understand the Chinese civilization and overcome prejudices.
"Some Italians associate Chinese culture to immigrant restaurants but there's much more to this, in the same way as Italians are not just pizza," he said, "Improving mutual understanding of each other promotes peace, friendship and boosts economic ties. We all learn a better way to live together."
Resca touted an important and unique initiative launched by the Italian and Chinese Culture Ministries to sponsor each other's art through museum exchanges.
Italy will showcase the best of its artistic heritage in China's new National Museum for five years. China, meanwhile, will be given a similar exhibition in Rome's National Museum of Piazza Venezia to "show the western world what the Chinese culture is all about."
The project is among the many bilateral agreements signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Rome in October for the opening ceremony of the Chinese Culture Year.
Italy will therefore exhibit in Beijing the very best of its art throughout the centuries: chefs d'oeuvres by Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio and Michelangelo, artists who belong to the entire humanity, Resca said.
At the end of the interview, Resca invited Chinese tourists to come and enjoy Italy's well-known cultural assets, including its fashion and food.
"We are here waiting for you," he said.