Pietra Serena: the stone of the Renaissance
F. Fratini, E. Pecchioni, E. Cantisani, S. Rescic, S. Vettori, 2015. "Pietra Serena: the stone of the Renaissance", Global Heritage Stone: Towards International Recognition of Building and Ornamental Stones, D. Pereira, B. R. Marker, S. Kramar, B. J. Cooper, B. E. Schouenborg
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The most frequently used material in Florentine Renaissance architecture was Pietra Serena, a sandstone that nowadays is found in a quite satisfactory state of conservation. The reason for this is that architects and stone cutters in the past made careful selections of the materials they employed. This conscientious picking out was very important because most sandstone layers have a composition that is not always suitable for assuring an acceptable durability. This paper deals with the mineralogical, chemical, petrographical and physical characteristics of the Pietra Serena sandstone quarried in the hills near Florence in order to verify what was affirmed by Vasari (1568), Tuscan painter, architect and historian of art of the 16th century, and other Tuscan naturalists regarding the quality of this sandstone.
As a matter of fact, analyses demonstrate that the Pietra Serena sandstones quarried in the hills of Settignano (to the northeast of Florence) and in the Gonfolina area (Lastra a Signa, to the west of Florence), are composed of layers particularly rich in calcite present mainly as sparitic cement. This calcitic cement gives great durability to the stone as is demonstrated by the good state of conservation of some Florentine monuments realized with Pietra Serena.