Lichens play an important role as biogeophysical and biogeochemical agents in the degradation of stone surfaces. Problems comes out where lichen-substratum relationships occured on stoneworks of artistic value. In this case the process of alteration and disintegration of rocks is of primary interest because sometimes it can create serious problems for their recovery, restoration and conservation. This work presents an up to date review of the researches conducted till now in Italy specifically devoted to lichens and biodeterioration of stonework in archeological and monumental areas. This survey shows the main methodologies used in this field: systematic and ecological studies, lichen-substratum interface quali-quantitative analyses, chemical and physical mechanisms of deterioration by lichens, calcium oxalate films, prevention and control methods. Finally the lichens are investigated as a possible air-dispersed component. Sampling methods for the quantitative assessment of the presence of airborne lichen structure (i.e. spores, lichenized propagules) in areas of artistic and archeological interest are proposed.

Key words: biodeterioration, Italy, lichens, review