With the gift of a golden olive tree of peace and the music of Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi ringing in the night air of Rome, the Flame for the 2019 European Games has begun the 50-day journey that will take it to the host city of Minsk.
The 11th-hour withdrawal of four-time Olympic biathlon champion Darya Domracheva through illness forced organisers to make late changes but even so, the ceremony was a moving spectacle worthy of the dramatic and historic setting of Ara Pacis.
A trio of Belarusian Olympic champions spanning the generations were the first of some 450 runners to carry the Minsk 2019 Torch in what has been named the "Relay of Peace".
Sprinter Yulia Nesterenko had been an unexpected winner of 100m gold at the Athens 2004 Games.
Rio 2016 trampoline gold medallist Uladzislau Hancharou represented the new generation of Belarus athletes, a nation which first competed at the Olympic Games in its own right little more than two decades ago.
The Flame was also passed to fencer Alena Belova, a revered figure in Belarus sport from the Soviet era.
She won four gold medals in the foil in a magnificent Olympic career which began at Mexico 1968 and came to an end in Moscow 12 years later.
It fell to European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Janez Kocijančič to make the handover of the Flame to Minsk 2019.
He greeted Sergei Kovalchuk, Belarus Minister of Sports and Tourism and deputy chairman of the Minsk 2019 Organising Committee as a prelude to the symbolic moment when the Flame was formally entrusted to the host city.
It was transferred to three safety lamps which will be kept in reserve throughout the relay by the "Flame keepers".
The ceremony was intended as a "celebration of hope, peace and the best of humanity" and staged in an ancient monument dedicated to peace.
Ara Pacis was built in 9BC to honour Roman Emperor Augustus and was dedicated to Pax, the Roman goddess of peace.
On this occasion, it was decorated with the emblem of the European Olympic Committees and the Belarus national flag.
The ceremony was streamed live online and began with the music of Verdi.
Va Pensiero, the chorus of the Hebrew slaves from his opera Nabucco, was performed by Coro Cantering, conducted by Filippo Stefanelli.
It was an echo of the last time an Italian city had staged an Olympics.
At the Closing Ceremony of Torino 2006, Verdi's masterpiece was heard as a farewell to the five Olympic rings when the Olympic flag was trooped from the stadium.
Now for these Minsk 2019 Games, the same music signalled "A dream begins and we will all be part of it".
For these Games, the symbol of a golden olive tree has been chosen.
In the words of the organisers, it has been "forged by the fire that will light the Torch".
The tree had been specially created for the occasion by renowned goldsmith Nicola Amato, who had made a similar piece for the European Youth Olympic Festival earlier this year.
EOC President Kocijančič presented the tree to Kovalchuk on behalf of Minsk 2019.
Watching the handover were Minsk 2019 chief executive Georgiy Katulin, EOC coordination commission chairman Spyros Capralos, EOC secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi and Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malago, while Artiom Tsuran and Ivan Markevich represented the local civic authorities in Minsk.
As the Flame set out on its journey to Minsk, it was accompanied by a cavalcade of bikers from ‘The ’One Chapter Belarus’’ who had travelled from Minsk to meet the first runners.
It will head to Mont Blanc for an ascent on the summit led by a team of nine climbers for Belarus led by Alexander Godlevsky, President of the national climbing federation.
This is second time a Torch Relay has been staged for a European Games, but already it seems as though it is developing a character of its own.
Four years ago, the Flame was lit at the ancient site of Ashtegah in Azerbaijan. but was carried exclusively in the host nation on its way the Opening Ceremony of the inaugural European Games in Baku.
This time, organisers have already brought in some innovations.
It will also cross neighbouring nations of Slovenia, Slovakia , Austria, Hungary and Poland before crossing the border into Belarus at Brest.
It seems likely that the temple of Ara Pacis will be the starting point for the Relay at future events under the auspices of the EOC as it also staged the lighting ceremony for the European Youth Olympic Festival earlier this year.