ROME, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The China-Italy year of culture and tourism kicked off with an official ceremony at the Auditorium Parco della Musica, a multicultural complex, in the Italian capital on Tuesday, gathering high-level officials and operators from both countries.
The year-long initiative marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between Rome and Beijing.
Speaking at the opening forum on international tourism cooperation, Italian Minister for Cultural Heritage, Activities and Tourism Dario Franceschini stressed that for both Italy and China, culture and tourism were "deeply interlaced."
"Our cultural heritage is so immense, in fact, that it is clearly hard for both of us to separate what we do in one sector from what we do in the other," said the Italian minister.
Chinese Minister of Culture and Tourism Luo Shugang recalled the historical ties between the two countries centuries ago, when western travelers -- such as Marco Polo and priest Matteo Ricci -- travelled through Asia along the ancient Silk Road to China.
"We represent two different civilizations that have relations since ancient times, and, in this historic framework, the Silk Road has provided us a hint that is still valid today," the Chinese minister told the forum.
A wide range of cross-cultural events are expected to be held in both countries during the China-Italy year of culture and tourism, according to a statement by Italy's Culture Ministry.
Italian authorities also said in the statement that the bilateral cooperation would stretch out to co-productions in cinema, opera, and theatre after 2020.
A photo exhibition showing some of the best UNESCO sites in both countries was also held at the Auditorium Parco della Musica on Tuesday.
The ceremony closed with a concert by musicians from both countries.