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Rome's nude statues covered to spare Rouhani's blushes

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Just one of the nude statues in Rome's Capitoline Museums. Photo: M Pardy
10:21 CET+01:00
As the visit to Europe of the Iranian President got underway on Monday, Italy showed its respect for Islamic traditions by covering up the Capitoline Museum's racier exhibits.

Hassan Rouhani visited the Capitoline Museums with premier Matteo Renzi, having signed contracts worth up to €17 billion ($18.4 billion) on Monday.

And Renzi was clearly keen to avoid offending his new business partner. The nude statues and sculptures in the museum were completely covered by large white boxes, as can be seen in the video below.

The decision to cover up nudity was seen as a mark of respect for the traditions of the Muslim country, which has only just had its trade sanctions lifted.

In pictures: The statues Italy doesn't want Hassan Rouhani to see

Ansa reported that as a further mark of respect, no wine was served at the official dinner during Rouhani's visit.

Renzi was equally respectful when the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi visited Florence in October, ensuring that a nude statue by the American sculptor Jeff Koons', Gazing Ball, was covered.

This is not the first time Iranian-European relations have been marked by cultural differences. In November, plans to invite Rouhani to a formal lunch at the Élysée in Paris were scrapped when the Iranian president’s request for a halal, alcohol-free menu was declined due to French 'republican traditions'.

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Rouhani is undertaking his first European tour since the trade sanctions were lifted, and Italian companies have been amongst the quickest off the block with a major business delegation having visited Tehran in November.

Italy was formerly Iran's biggest European trading partner, but trade has dwindled to a fifth of its former volume as a result of the sanctions.

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