President Tony Tan Keng Yam visits Sapienza University in Rome

ROME - President Tony Tan Keng Yam arrived back in Rome on Friday after spending a day in Venice to officially open the Singapore Pavilion at the 15th Architecture Biennale.

Dr Tan, who is on the sixth day of his state visit to Italy and the Holy See, met with the rector Professor Eugenio Gaudio, students and faculty from Rome's Sapienza University - Europe's largest university by enrolment - and discussed the ties between Italy and Singapore.

During the meeting, Dr Tan welcomed more students to come to Singapore on exchange or as non-graduating students, and for Singapore and Italian universities to collaborate more.

"Young people really are the hope of our future," he said.

Prof Gaudio said the university held a "Singapore Day" in 2013 to provide information to Italian students on grants, study and research opportunities in Singapore universities.

"Amongst the European nations, Italy has always been at the forefront in the ability to create bridges with other people, especially those who are apparently far away, while amongst Asian countries, Singapore represents a unique model forging oriental culture and inclination to understand the Western world," he said.

On Friday, three Sapienza students who have lived in Singapore spoke to Dr Tan about their experiences.

Mr Jesper Steentjes, 22, a Dutch student who was at the National University of Singapore last year as a non-graduating student, said he was glad for the chance to learn from friends and fellow students from Asian countries. While he was in NUS, he joined a political association and took part in a public policy forum.

Dr Tan was also briefed on the nanotechnology research being done at Sapienza University, which signed an agreement with Nanyang Technological University on Monday to work together on scientific research and exchanges.