PARIS, April 2 (CGTN) -- French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday kicked off commemorations to mark 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci died in France, paying their respects to the Renaissance genius in a show of unity after months of diplomatic tensions.

"The bond between our countries and our citizens is indestructible," Macron said at the Clos Luce, the sumptuous manor house where Leonardo spent the last three years of his life.

Mattarella and Macron, who was accompanied by his wife Brigitte, began their visit at the royal chateau in Amboise, where the heads of state laid wreaths at Leonardo's grave.

The Italian leader had started his day with a visit to the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.

The joint celebrations come after months of mounting diplomatic tensions between Paris and Rome over the hardline policies of Italy's populist government and its support for France's anti-government "yellow vest" protesters.