CHONGQING, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Lorenzo Buttarello has recently become a celebrity in China, after a video of him speaking in perfect Chinese dialect at his graduation ceremony went viral online.
Buttarello is an Italian student studying at Chongqing University in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. After spending six years in China, he has developed a deep affection for Chongqing, known as the mountain city for its hilly landscape.
Hailing from the city of Varese in Italy, Buttarello, 31, has an exotic face in the eyes of many in Chongqing, but he can speak the Chongqing dialect fluently. At the graduation ceremony, he spoke on behalf of the overseas students at the university, winning widespread acclaim from the Chinese public.
"How time flies! I have been here for six years, and have been to every corner of the city," he said at the ceremony. "I have become a genuine Chongqing 'zaier' (child)."
Buttarello said he has always been "interested in Chinese kungfu and Oriental culture," and like many people born in the 1980s, he adores the films of Jet Li and Jacky Chan.
"Kungfu films were my inspiration to learn Chinese," he said.
In 2014, at the recommendation of a teacher at a Confucius Institute in Italy, Buttarello was admitted by Chongqing University, giving him a long-wanted opportunity to visit China.
Chongqing is part of a group of Chinese cities known as the "Four Furnaces" due to their hot weather. Besides the high temperatures, the hospitality of Chongqing locals also left a deep impression on Buttarello.
"After coming to Chongqing, I got to know the Chongqing people, who are direct and passionate," he said. "Since then, I gradually fell in love with the city."
Buttarello said his Chinese was not that good at first, but gradually, he not only learned to speak standard Chinese well, but also picked up the local dialect. He started by reading Chinese textbooks and then managed to finish the long Chinese novel "To Live" by Yu Hua. He was previously a diehard fan of spaghetti, but now has turned into a big fan of Chongqing street noodles.
"Chongqing is both a modern and an ancient city in my eyes," he said. "Here in Chongqing, you can see many high-rises and bustling city views like Manhattan, and historical small towns."
The ever-changing Chongqing is just "amazing," he said.
"In China, you have the most convenient online shopping, logistics and food delivery, especially during the epidemic," Buttarello said. "All you have to do is to move your fingers."
Buttarello said he has witnessed how the Chinese people united and quickly contained COVID-19 since its outbreak.
"I saw how the Chinese government put people's lives first," he said. "China and Italy have cooperated in the fight against the epidemic, and I hope the two countries will continue to help each other."
Buttarello is just one example of the deepening exchanges between Chongqing and Italy.
In recent years, Chongqing has conducted various friendly exchanges with local governments in Italy. More than 160 Italian students have come to study in Chongqing, and close to 60 Italian experts or teachers have come to work in the city. By February 2019, Chongqing had 46 Italian investment companies. In March this year, Chongqing donated 180,000 masks to Italy to aid its fight against COVID-19.
Buttarello plans to stay in Chongqing after graduation. He hopes to find work in the field of international cultural communication.
"I hope to become a bridge for the people-to-people exchanges between China and Italy," he said.