Italian marble. A stone that knows how to express all the soul and passion of a Land, unique in the world. Moving in its diverse texture. Unique in its colors that, from the almost dazzling white of the Carrara Statuario marble, sink into the wonders of the absolute black of the marble of Portovenere, proposing on its way only the most exciting colors. We are talking about an excellence. A tradition of more than centuries of marble processing that has given outstanding works such as Michelangelo’s David, Antonio Canova’s Grazie, the splendid floor of the Florence Cathedral … Italian marble? Simply, a wonderful emotion.
Excellence in marble processing
In 1501, Michelangelo was about to sculpt one of the most famous artworks in the world: the statue of David, now kept in the Accademia Gallery in Florence. The chosen material was a block of gigantic white Carrara marble, which created many problems both for the supply and for the transportation from the quarries to the master’s laboratory. The processing of the marble began in a very difficult way, because the block had been compromised in its volumetric structure by the roughening previously implemented by Agostino di Duccio and Antonio Rossellino. The genius of Michelangelo, however, after three years of assiduous work, was able to bring out the splendid David, unique in the perfect proportion of all its forms.
The type of marble chosen by Michelangelo was the white Carrara Statuario marble, which differs not only due to its incredible white luminosity, that tends to ivory, but also due to the almost total absence of veins.
Today, this material represents 5% of what is extracted annually from Carrara, which explains why it is among the most exclusive marbles not only in Italy but in the world. Next to the Carrara, and always talking about high-quality marbles, we find the extra-Carrara Calacatta Marble, characterized by a pure ivory-white background with a few thin white-beige veins, and the gold Calacatta on which, elegant golden yellow veins are articulated over a crystalline white background.
These marbles are truly among the most precious on the market and are used for Design furnishing elements, classic and contemporary interiors, covers dedicated to luxury interiors and SPA areas.
The processing of Siena Yellow Marble in Tuscany
Among the thousands of the magnificent colors of Italian marble, a place of excellence is given to the Giallo Siena Marble.
This material is particularly valuable both for its beauty and for the difficulty of its extraction: the deposit is characterized by an intense fracture that involves the extraction of blocks of different sizes and a large amount of waste. Its beauty, however, repays all the efforts and exalts for its dark yellow color that becomes heterogeneous due to the presence of veins with shades ranging from ivory white to light yellow up to reaching the yellow ocher and reddish. The particularity of this marble is precisely having, even within the same block, slabs that are very different from one another for distribution of colors and movements of the grain.
The processing of the Giallo Siena Marble has always been considered very valuable and there are numerous examples that today are located in the most beautiful Italian cities. The floor of the Duomo of Siena, is one of its most spectacular testimony. It is composed of 56 panels of various shapes and sizes depicting Sibyls, Biblical Stories, Virtues, Allegories and stories from the Old Testament. Over 40 artists had worked on it.
Seen as a whole, the counterpoints of the special processing in Giallo Siena Marble give a special light to the artwork, giving the floor almost an impressionistic flavour.
Botticino Classico: a supply of exclusive marble
Botticino Classico is an aesthetically precious stone thanks to its chromatic veins on the soft tones of beige.
It is extracted exclusively from the marble basin east of Brescia and the supply of marble is given only by small and medium-sized enterprises that often have a history of more than three generations. Despite their ‘small’ size, this area, like the excavation of ornamental stones, is second only to Carrara.
As for the processing of this marble, however, its hardness and its characteristics of particular resistance make it suitable for all finishes, even the most impacting such as tumbling or bush hammering. Undoubtedly, Botticino Classico marble is an extremely precious marble that has been used for iconic achievements such as the Altare della Patria in Rome, without forgetting the charm aroused by this stone abroad: the White House and New York Central Station were created with Botticino Classico.
Portoro or Marble of Portovenere: the excellence of Italian marble
The Portoro or Marble of Portovenere is a very precious quality of brilliant black marble with light golden streaks that is extracted exclusively in the area of La Spezia (Liguria).
Its color is due to the richness of organic substance present in the limestone while the light gold veins comes from the partial dolomitization of the organic substance that has oxidized. The current number of quarries that extract this material is very limited today and the blocks are made inside large rooms to avoid the impact on the above areas, very delicate from a landscape point of view.
The processing of Portoro marble sends us to the Etruscans and then, passing through the artifacts of ancient Rome and those typically Ligurian of the twelfth century, to the Renaissance era where it was widely used during the reign of Cosimo I De Medici. In the Baroque period, however, it was used, especially in the decorations of the interiors of churches and sacred places that require the supply of this marble to create marvelous works such as San Pietro in Vincoli, San Giovanni in Laterano, the church of Saints John and Paul and Saint Sylvester in Capite in Rome.
The export of this material began only in the nineteenth century and brought the supply of material in France, Belgium and Switzerland for the ornamentation of palaces and castles among which we find Versailles, Marly and Compiegne. Towards the end of the 50s, Portoro also reached the United States where it has been chosen to hold the projection room of the then very famous Paramount. Wonderful as a valuable material, today it is used for high impact Design projects, luxury bathrooms and coverings.
Travertine is often incorrectly inserted into the marble family. In reality, marble is a metamorphic stone which under the effect of temperature and pressure has undergone a transformation to obtain a granular and crystalline structure.
Travertine, on the other hand, is a sedimentary rock created from a limestone deposit which, thanks to its porosity, can incorporate oxides during the formation process, thus acquiring various colors, from white to beige to reddish.
The results, however, are breathtaking and comparable, if only as an originality, to those given by the precious marbles mentioned in this article. Travertine, in fact, can reach very strong colors such as dark brown or incredibly charged red. The slabs with horizontal streaked lines on earth tones are also splendid, becoming particularly evocative in country houses or marine resorts.
To give an example of a valuable construction in travertine, we will only mention a work that surely everyone knows: the marvelous 284 columns of Piazza San Pietro in Rome.