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In the Northern Apennine mountain areas of Italy, around the city of Florence in Tuscany, a rare kind of limestone is found called “pietra paesina” or “Florentine marble”. The natural veins of impurities within the rock have arranged themselves in shapes that resemble mountainous landscapes, castles, and ruins. For this reason, the rock is also known by various names such as “landscape stone”, “ruin marble” and “ruiniform marble.”

The sedimentary rock is mostly made up of sediments from an ancient sea bed that rose up when the African Plate collided with the European Plate during the Mesozoic era resulting in the formation of a band of mountains that extends from Spain to Turkey. The immense pressure created by the movement of the earth’s crust fractured the limestone. The fractures in the stone were subsequently filled by iron and manganese hydroxide deposited by water percolating through the fragmented rocks creating the beautiful natural patterns. The cracks were later sealed by the deposition of calcite crystals. This event is thought to have occurred some 50 million years ago.

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Photo credit: Gpierlu/Wikimedia

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