"The scale of our cooperation is such that we always have something to talk about," Vladimir Putin said. "This year we will probably surpass last year's trade turnover record."
Putin said Russia's economy is open to European partners, which is confirmed by the acquisition of Russian gas and electric power assets by Italian companies Enel and Eni S.p.A.
He said, however, that cooperation with Italy is not limited to energy: "Our relations are quite diverse, involving the power industry, high technology, space, and aviation."
Gazprom is currently in talks with oil and gas giant Eni and Italian electricity giant Enel on an asset swap, through which the state-controlled Russian energy giant could gain power generating assets from both firms. The Italian companies each own 20% in Gazprom Neft, Gazprom's oil production arm.
Gazprom and Eni agreed on Thursday to create a joint venture to develop a feasibility study for a gas pipeline to run under the Black Sea from Russia to the European Union.
The document was signed in the Kremlin by Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller and Eni President Paolo Scaroni in the presence of Putin and Prodi.
Gazprom and Eni agreed in June to build the South Stream pipeline, which will deliver 30 billion cubic meters of gas annually via Bulgaria to Austria, Slovenia and Italy.
Putin told journalists after his meeting with Prodi that he and the Italian premier believe trade and economic cooperation is developing successfully. The president highlighted joint work in creating the Superjet-100 aircraft, and the possibility of jointly building infrastructure for the 2014 Olympic Games in the Russian southern resort city of Sochi.