Italy's president Sergio Mattarella on Thursday paid a surprise visit to a state school in Rome's multi-ethnic Esquilino district, greeting its nursery elementary and middle-school students, many of whom are Chinese.
Accompanied by his daughter, Mattarella toured classrooms at the Manin school, shook hands and talked to students and staff at the school.
"Friendship and peace are crucial things - as you well know. My best wishes to you all ," Mattarella told pupils in one elementary class.
Esquilino has a large Chinese population and around one-third of the Manin's 332 from immigrant families are Chinese. A total 45% of pupils at the school are second- and third-generation immigrants.
"Matterella wanted to be among the children and to send them a calming message at this time of groundless fears," said the school's headmistress Manuela Manferlotti.
Mattarella's visit came after Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday urged Italians not to discriminate against Chinese citizens amid the deadly coronavirus epidemic following reports of stone-throwing and attempts to exclude Chinese children from school.