NEW DELHI: India shares a 'unique' cultural relationship with Italy and is the world's only country where a Roman settlement dating back more than 2,000 years can be found, a senior Italian official has said.
The settlement, now called Arikamedu, is in Kakkayanthope, four kilometres from Puducherry town, said Andrea Baldi, director of Italian embassy's Cultural Centre.
India and Italy are, along with China and a few other nations, the "powerhouses of culture in the world", he said.
"We have a very unique ancient cultural tradition and have enormous richness in our cultures," Baldi told PTI.
"India is the only country (outside Italy) where you find Roman ruins. There is a Roman settlement near Puducherry which was established more than 2,000 years ago by a Roman trader to export Indian items like species and clothes to Italy," Baldi said on the sidelines of an event held here last night to celebrate the 70th anniversary of India-Italy bilateral ties.
Archaeologists have found beads made of gold, glass and semi-precious stones (some with Greek or Roman designs), Roman lamps and Roman glass items among others at the site, which was badly damaged during the 2004 tsunami.
Noting that culture transcends geographical boundaries, he said it was easily understood by people and therefore more helpful than politics in establishing friendships.
"Political exchanges are mostly confined to corridors of power, whereas cultural exchanges involve people to people contacts," he said.
He said the cultural centre had started a series of programmes, including exhibitions and performances, in February, "This is the last performance in a series of programmes organised for the Indian public. The response has been very good. People have come in large numbers and shown great interest," he added.
The event saw one of Italy's most respected chamber orchestras, Cameristi della Scala, make its debut in India with a powerful performance that held the audience spellbound.