The Italian method of restoration spread throughout the world in the second half of the 20th century. The theoretical framework elaborated by Cesare Brandi is still relevant and applicable to different cultures far from the Western model. This essay analyses the intense activity of the Istituto Centrale del Restauro (Central Restoration Institute) abroad since the 1950's, highlighting the avant-garde characteristics of the international strategy that Brandi shared with Giuseppe Tucci and Doro Levi and that engaged Pasquale Rotondi and Giovanni Urbani in the 1960's and 1970's. The development of Italian activity over the last twenty years is analysed. This phase was characterised by the synergy of different institutions and framed in the context of co-operation with developing countries, particularly Italian initiatives in the People's Republic of China, which led to the creation of two training centres. The first of these was set up at Xian and the second at Beijing, where over 150 Chinese art restorers have been trained.