The veined Gray Marble of Ardesio

The Bergamo region is known for the presence of renowned marbles in its subsoil: Arabescato Orobico, Credaro stone, and Ceppo di Grè are just a few examples. However, when you look more closely at the list of the 12 original stones from the Bergamo area recognized by the Bergamo Chamber of Commerce, which includes the three just mentioned, your eye cannot help but be drawn to a particular type of stone extraction that, due to its name, immediately appears shrouded in a divine aura: the Marble of the Madonna.

This is actually the nickname for the veined grey marble of Ardesio, so-called because it was used in the construction of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace in the same town as Ardesio. Yet, it is a material that is still used in numerous projects today: let’s discover all its secrets together!

its Genesis

The origin of the veined grey marble of Ardesio dates back to the Triassic period, more precisely to the Lower Carnian stage. Like many other Bergamo marbles, it formed the seabeds of the ancient Tethys Ocean, which separated Northern Africa from Eurasia about 200 million years ago. More specifically, this marble began to form in shallow and inland seabed areas, corresponding to lagoons and tidal flats.

Today, as a result, it belongs to the Breno geological formation and is found abundantly in the Orobie Alps. However, it is only in the area of Ardesio, a small village at the foot of the Orobic Prealps, that this marble can be found with all the aesthetic and performance characteristics necessary to make it a valuable ornamental stone suitable for multiple purposes.

aesthetic Characteristics

The grey colouration is the most distinctive feature of the Marble of the Madonna. This marble also exhibits great compactness and good stratification. Due to these peculiarities, its surface is rich in pleasing veins ranging from lighter shades to the most intense and decisive black.

Its grain is lovely, and overall, it boasts first-rate technical properties: its isotropic mechanical behaviour, combined with the variety of finishes it can undergo (polishing, patination, bush hammering, and pointing), opens up an infinite number of practical application possibilities for the veined grey marble of Ardesio. As a result, it can be used for any interior and exterior project, including floors, wall coverings, and ornamental uses.

the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace in Ardesio

The principal structure that extensively used veined grey marble and subsequently gave this material its nickname, “Marble of the Madonna,” is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace. This majestic Baroque church dominates the centre of the town of Ardesio. The sanctuary, dating back to the 17th century, was built on the exact spot where, in the early 1600s, a Marian apparition (of Our Lady of Grace) reportedly occurred. Today, it remains the town’s main point of interest, both culturally (every year on June 22nd and 23rd, the city celebrates the apparition of Our Lady of Grace) and artistically (the interior houses numerous frescoes and sculptures, with works by Giacomo Busca, Domenico Carpinoni, Antonio Guadagnini, Andrea Fantoni, and Giovan Battista Riva). The grey marble of Ardesio, which has allowed the structure to remain in excellent condition over the centuries, is primarily seen in the exterior parts of the sanctuary, particularly the simple and austere façade and the impressive bell tower constructed entirely of Marble of the Madonna. At 68 meters high, it is the tallest bell tower in the Bergamo area and an undeniable symbol of the town of Ardesio.

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