NEW YORK (AP) – An ancient Greek vase that has long been a highlight of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection will be displayed there for the last time tomorrow before being returned to Italy, which maintains it was stolen from a site near Rome. The museum and Italian authorities agreed nearly two years ago that the Euphronios krater would be back in Italy by January 15, 2008. In exchange, the Italian government is lending the Met other ancient treasures, including three ceramic pieces that are to go on view Wednesday. «We expected one object, but got three very beautiful objects,» Met director Philippe de Montebello told The New York Times in an interview Thursday, as the museum announced the Euphronios krater’s final day on exhibit. It shows on what a firm footing our future collaborations with Italy will be.» Dating to the 6th century BC, the Euphronios krater is a bowl for mixing wine and water, according to the museum. Painted with scenes related to Homer’s epic poems «The Iliad» and «The Odyssey,» it is regarded as one of the finest examples of its kind. The museum bought the vessel for $1 million in 1972 from American art dealer Robert Hecht, on trial in Italy on charges of knowingly acquiring allegedly looted ancient artifacts. He denies wrongdoing. The Euphronios krater is to join an exhibition of masterpieces recovered through Italy’s campaign against illegal trafficking in antiquities. The show opened last month at Rome’s Quirinal Palace.