GUANGZHOU, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Looking through the windows in the meeting room, there is a bridge linking two parts of the campus of Guangzhou University. Italian scholar Denis Bastieri often finds himself indulging in the beauty of the scenery.
Back in 2007, when Bastieri went on his honeymoon in China along the Silk Road, he did not know that his long journey would later become an invisible bridge to link Italy with China.
"Our world is like a book. If you don't travel, you only read one page. My wife and I love traveling, so we decided to follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo to discover China," said Bastieri.
During the trip, Bastieri visited many famous spots mentioned in Marco Polo's books, including the Crescent Lake in northwest China.
The experience gave Bastieri a positive impression of the oriental country. Three years later, in 2010, he joined an exchange program to work at Guangzhou University in south China's Guangdong Province.
Bastieri worked as a particle physicist at the University of Padua in Italy. He then turned to develop hardware and software to detect high-energy radiation. Guangzhou University offered many new ideas in radio astronomy, which was complementary to Bastieri's study.
Located in northern Italy's Veneto region, Padua is famed for its many bridges and canals. Bastieri believed that bridges are of great importance, not only in terms of transportation but also in linking different cultures and societies.
"The longer I stayed in Guangzhou, the more I fell in love with the city and wanted to build a much longer bridge to link Padua and Guangzhou," said Bastieri.
Starting with exchanging students, Bastieri worked with the two universities in Italy and China to build the invisible "bridge." Step by step, the two institutions cooperated in writing scientific articles and exchanging professors.
In 2018, the Guangzhou International Sister Cities University Alliance (GISU) was founded to establish a multilateral exchange mechanism to promote friendly exchanges between scholars from sister cities.
"I believe it is imperative to exchange students because the youth are the future. Also, they are the ambassadors of different cultures and will be able to introduce the exotic culture to their hometown to bridge different countries," said Bastieri.
Although the pandemic created barriers to international exchanges, GISU offered international online courses to its member universities.
"We are looking forward to restarting the international exchanges when possible," said Bastieri. "Humans nowadays have global challenges, including global warming, poverty, lack of food, and so on, so we need to collaborate to find global solutions. I completely agree with China's appeal of 'building a shared future'."
Bastieri enjoys his stay in China and has brought his family to settle in Guangzhou. At 13, his son can speak a few Chinese words and distinguish different types of traditional Chinese teas.
"Chinese cuisine and traditions are all about culture. The food is not merely to fill your stomach, but represents how Chinese people understand the world," said Bastieri. "Italy and China share the love of tradition and history, so I believe it is quite easy for the two peoples to talk together and to collaborate."