What unites the beautiful Renaissance
gallery of the Uffizi in Florence, the walls of Etruscan Fiesole and many of
the most beautiful Tuscany Villas? Is it their beauty? Without a doubt, but
beauty is not the only thing....
Another answer is a particular type of
stone. Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy called it "Boulder", while
Benvenuto Cellini called it "Stone the colour of the sky", hence the
Italian name of "Pietra Serena".
Its colour is more of a grey-pearl blue
than the bright blue of a summer’s sky. What matters most is that for centuries
this stone has been one of the basic building materials for the greatest
architects of Tuscany. Villas, palaces and the monuments of Tuscany show
evidence of this.
The stone is a fine sandstone, but very
compact and weather resistant and is mostly found in the hills around Florence.
Because of its physical and aesthetic properties, it isn’t often used for
walls, but for individual architectural elements or decorative use.
The first people to consider the stone’s
structural qualities were the Etruscans, who built defensive walls around the
city of Fiesole; later the Romans used it to build the temple of Mars in
But you don’t have to be an architect or
art expert to recognize it; we have all admired this stone, even if only in
photographs. If you have seen a Florentine Renaissance building then you have
come across this stone.
With the arrival of the Renaissance period,
the popularity of this stone grew. The colour contrast between the white
plaster and grey stone became a hallmark of the entire architecture of this
period. Among the most famous, we must mention Brunelleschi's works in Florence;
such as the Pazzi Chapel that is inside the Basilica of Santa Croce, the
Hospital of the Innocents and the Basilica of the Holy Spirit. During this
period the stone was used by everybody from Michelangelo, in the Laurentian
Library, to Giorgio Vasari.
This type of stone was also used in more
common architecture, where it was often combined with other materials such as
wood or marble. Typically found in the statues, fountains and stairways of
Luxury Tuscany Villas, plus the colonnades of the palaces and government
buildings in many of the Tuscan towns.
Labels: Tuscany Villas