White boards obscured the sculptures in the Capitoline Museum for Hassan Rouhani’s trip, whose country is a strongly conservative Islamic republic. Italian president Matteo Renzi spoke to Mr Rouhani, who also met Pope Francis during the trip, at the museum in Rome. At Iran’s request Italy also kept wine off the menu at a ceremonial dinner.

Luca Squeri, a lawmaker in former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party, blasted the move. He said: “Respect for other cultures cannot and must not mean negating our own. “This isn’t respect, it’s cancelling out differences and it’s a kind of surrender.” A statement issued by Iranian women’s rights campaign group My Stealthy Freedom called for female Italian politicians to speak out. The statement said: “So Italy! You respect Islamic values but the Islamic Republic of Iran does not respect our values [or] our freedom of choice. CONTINUE