France and Italy set aside recent tensions on Thursday (May 2), when French President Emmanuel Macron and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella visited Leonardo da Vinci's tomb to mark 500 years since the artist's death.
Speaking from the Amboise castle in the Loire Valley, both leaders underlined the importance of a strong link between the two countries.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, EMMANUEL MACRON, SAYING: "In those amazing times (the Renaissance) when humanity changed fundamentally, the best of our countries and their intelligence came together and that's why the link between our two countries and our citizens is indestructible, why it's much stronger and deeper than what we have at our level." (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ITALIAN PRESIDENT, SERGIO MATTARELLA, SAYING: "Relations between France and Italy are the best possible and the friendship that already exists and which today was confirmed by me and President Macron is a friendship that can withstand any trial.'' The recent so-called ''trial'' was mostly over migration policy, as Italy's populist prime ministers fired verbal pot-shots at Macron.
But the lending of da Vinci artwork to the Louvre museum for an anniversary exhibition was also contentious.
In November, Italy's culture undersecretary said she wanted to renegotiate the planned lending to the Paris museum, arguing that the French could not ''have it all." Da Vinci was originally from Florence, but spent much of his career in France working for King Francis I.
The monarch bought many of the Italian artist's most famous works - including the Mona Lisa - which has been on display at The Louvre since 1797.
The director of the Amboise castle said that seeing the two countries come together for the anniversary was quote ''an extremely solemn gesture.''