Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Rome at the start of a whistle stop European tour amid growing Western unease over the economic giant's new Silk Road project. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is to sign a memorandum of understanding with Mr. Xi on Saturday for Italy to join the US$1 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, the first G7 member to do so.
On Friday Xi met his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella during a trip that also included parliament and the Coliseum.
Around 1,000 extra police have been deployed around Rome for the state visit before Mr. Xi heads to Palermo, where his singer wife reportedly wants to see the Teatro Massimo opera house.
Nato member Italy's plan to join China's ambitious maritime, rail and road venture, which critics warn mainly benefits Chinese firms, has raised eyebrows among Western allies and within Italy.
The United States has also warned European allies that China's Huawei could use its next generation 5G technology as a backdoor for spying.