Stone has been used as a building material since before history was recorded. It is one of the basic materials in the world and its presence in castles, temples and modest dwellings reveals its’ remarkable visual essence and durability. Greeks, Romans, Incas and Egyptians built their fortifications from enormous stone blocks, created spectacular columns for their amphitheaters and elegantly carved decorative ornaments out of stone. When you select stone for the interior of your house, or the exterior for that matter, you are making the same kinds of choices that civilizations have made from Paleolithic times to the 21st century.
There are so many kinds of stone, but for the purposes of this post I will talk only about the immense stone formations in the Italian Apuan Alps, discovered by the early Romans who began quarrying it using the most primitive of tools. They used the material for great pieces of art as well as monumental structures. It was not until the 16th century that explosives were used to expose the material and release it from facade of the mountain. As more and more of the material was exposed, it transformed the landscape. If you travel to the area around Forte di Marmi today you can see great formations of white marble for miles and miles.
Different types of striations are found along the mountain range. Only through very careful sorting and selecting can a well blended and highly selective lot be achieved. A highly “select” assortment costs more than a random one, but in the end will cost less in less waste and installer time.
The area has about 275 active quarries. The material from the region has long been prized for its color and texture. The most well known stone from the region is CARARRA. Its’ undertones are cool white to gray-white with medium to dark gray veins both thick and thin and a few splotches. The surface has elegant “arabesques”. It is extremely versatile and well known, a classic choice, perhaps used a little too often especially in baths.
But there are a number of other remarkable whites:
CALACATTA : This material has a warm white ground with mottled soft and medium sized streaks in amber, gray and tobacco shades. It is quite inconsistent but a skilled and artistic installer will carefully dry lay the stone prior to installing it. He can then move stones around to elongate the veins and create a more consistent linear installation. It is considered a fine material and should give the impression of having an open vein configuration.
STATUARY: This material has fine to medium sized gray veins which create unique textures. The ground is pure white but like most of the material found in Apuan Alps, there is a lot of variation. The material has to to managed for the most beautiful installation.
ARABESCATO: Minerals often grow from the impurities within the stone. The result of this recrystalization are veins and colored streaks. This creates a stone like Arabescato; a white ground that is significantly veined and patterned with dark gray elongated and flattened markings that circulate all over the surface. It is a magically aggressive stone that makes for a truly beautiful installation.
I have tried to illustrate all of the materials from this part of Apuan Alps and encourage you to look into the remarkable assortment before making your final selection.
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