Rouhani and Francis
Rouhani and Francis Reuters

Several nude statues at Rome's Capitoline Museum were hidden behind plywood boxes Monday, so as not to offend the sensibilities of visiting Iranian president Hassan Rouhani.

Rouhani and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi spoke at the museum after several Italian firms signed business deals worth about 17 billion euros ($18.42 billion) with Iran. The leaders shared a stage with and a very large statue of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius riding a horse.

The Iranian president had a 40-minute meeting on Tuesday with Pope Francis, who urged Iran to work with other Middle Eastern countries against terrorism and arms trafficking, according to the Vatican.

Rouhani asked the pontiff to pray for him, and gave him the gift of a hand-made carpet.

Rouhani is heading a 120-strong delegation of Iranian business leaders and ministers, and will fly to France on Wednesday following his two-day visit to Italy.

Italy also chose to honor their guest's religious sensitivities by not serving wine at official meals with the Iranians – but France has reportedly refused to follow suit, despite the Muslim ban on alcoholic drinks.

Rouhani is in Europe on a five-day tour seeking to boost economic ties after the lifting of sanctions on Iran, which was achieved as part of a deal regarding the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Iran announced plans to buy more than 160 European planes, mainly from Airbus, on the eve of Rouhani's departure.