Marco Polo continues to be an inspiration in China, Italy 700 years after passing

(Xinhua) 11:30, March 23, 2024

BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Seven hundred years after his death, legendary Italian traveler Marco Polo remains an inspiration for those passionate about the cultures of China and Italy, and a symbol of the ties between the two countries.

A Chinese-language book that brings together the two classics about Marco Polo -- "The Travels of Marco Polo" and "Invisible Cities" -- was released this week in Beijing to commemorate the 700th anniversary of his death in 2024.

The book selects parts of Marco Polo's travelogues in China and juxtaposes them with imaginative stories told by him in "Invisible Cities," a novel by Italian writer Italo Calvino. This unique writing style aims to kindle Chinese readers' interest in classic Italian works.

Italian Ambassador to China Massimo Ambrosetti believes that the significance of the book extends far beyond the promotion of Italian literature.

"Marco Polo and his works have built a bridge for cultural exchange between Italy and China, and are still inspiring people's imagination," Ambrosetti said.

Federico Roberto Antonelli, cultural counselor of the Italian Embassy in China, noted that the book has given new life to the image of Marco Polo.

"For centuries, Marco Polo has made outstanding contributions to the historical and cultural exchanges between the two ancient civilizations of Italy and China," said the cultural counselor. "Whether in reality or in imagination, Marco Polo's stories still inspire us to travel today."

Lu Zhizhou, deputy chief editor of Yilin Press, said in the writing of Marco Polo, China's prosperity and civilization were vividly presented to Europeans.

"'The Travels of Marco Polo' is not only a precious historical document, but also opens a new chapter of exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations," Lu said. "We firmly believe that through literature, the understanding between the people of China and Italy will be further deepened, and our emotional bonds will be even stronger."

Wen Zheng, a professor of Beijing Foreign Studies University, said many Chinese readers are fans of Marco Polo and Calvino.

"Statues of Marco Polo have been erected in many places in China and Calvino's works have also been translated and published," said Wen. "The ideal goal we pursue in regards to different countries is spiritual communication and harmonious coexistence."

Chinese reader An Huishuo has been impressed by the perseverance of Marco Polo and how he overcame all the hardships during his trip to China.

"Marco Polo is an amazing person. Although his era has passed, the spirit has been passed down to this day," An said.

This year, a series of cultural activities on Marco Polo will be held, including lectures, exhibitions, and themed performances, to commemorate the 700th anniversary of his death.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liu Ning)


Related Stories