Fifteen teams of Italians, specialists in fine art and archaeological restoration are at work in seven countries in the Middle and Far East, thanks to an international convention, signed 1972, for the protection of the worlds patrimony.

Sent by the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro (ICR), the Italian restorers are much in demand. They not only work on restoration but also teach local experts how to look after their artistic treasures.

The ministry of fine arts and the cultural heritage has now opened an exhibition at the Complesso del Vittoriano in Rome with photographs and panels explaining the current works. The exhibition shows the Italian contribution to restoration in China, in Beijings Forbidden City and on the 5760-km long Great Wall, in the national museum of Baghdad, Iraq, and in the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. In Iran the ICR is working at Bam, where a devastating earthquake struck in December 2003. In India, Italians are at the grottoes in Ajanta and Ellora. They are also helping at museums in Afghanistan and in Egypt, and at the new archaeological park at Carthage, Leptis Magna and Sabratha in Libya. In Ethiopia, the Stele of Axum, recently returned from Rome, will be re-erected with the assistance of Italian experts.

The exhibition leccellenza del restauro Italiano nel mondo is at the Sala Alcide de Gasperi at the Complesso del Vittoriano at the Piazza Venezia in Rome until 18 December, open from 9.30-18.00 every day; entrance free. For information tel. 0669202049.