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From Ancient Artistry to Modern Mastery: GIO Tile Looks at the Timeless Charm of Lecce Stone

Piazza del Duomo, Lecce, Apulia, Italy. By Tango7174, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lecce stone, a warm, malleable limestone, has been the cornerstone of architectural beauty in Italy’s southern region, especially in the Salento region and its capital, Lecc, often referred to as the “Florence of the South.” This unique limestone has played a central role in shaping the region’s buildings and sculptures, defining the aesthetic of what is often referred to as Baroque Leccese. Let’s delve into the historical journey of Lecce stone from its ancient origins to its contemporary uses, highlighting how this natural resource has shaped artistic and architectural trends over the millennia.

Historical Roots

The use of Lecce stone dates back to over a thousand years, deeply intertwined with the architectural fabric of Puglia, especially during the Roman era. Its softness, which hardens over time when exposed to air, made it an ideal material for the elaborate carvings characteristic of Baroque architecture. The Romans first utilized it to construct their grand villas and public baths, appreciating its easy-to-carve nature, which allowed for intricate detailing.

The Golden Age of Lecce Stone

The golden age of Lecce stone coincided with the flourishing of Baroque architecture in the 17th century, during which Salento saw the construction of numerous churches, palaces, and public buildings that showcased the stone’s elaborate and expressive capabilities. The stone is ideal for the ornate carvings of floral motifs, cherubs, mythical figures, and elaborate scrollwork that typify the Baroque aesthetic. Its ability to be carved into fine, lace-like details allows architects and artisans to create depth and shadow effects that are visually striking.

Clockwise from top left: Church of Santa Croce; Roman Theatre; the cathedral’s bell tower; Lecce Cathedral (“Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta”); and Porta Napoli, in Viale Università. By DaniDF1995 (collage)Laibniz, Filippo Caranti aka Terrasque, Paolo da Reggio, Lupiae, Colar – , CC BY-SA 3.0

Contemporary Applications of Lecce Stone

In modern times, Lecce stone continues to be a popular material, revered not only for its historical significance but also for its versatility and striking aesthetic appeal. It is used in modern buildings either as a primary material or as an accent to other materials, providing a link between the new constructions and the historical context of the area. Interior designers also utilize Lecce stone for features like wall claddings, floor tiles, and decorative interior elements, blending traditional craftsmanship with modern aesthetics. Designers and architects today celebrate Lecce stone for its organic texture and warm, natural hues that can add a visually captivating element to both traditional and contemporary styles.

Lecce stone’s journey from ancient Roman times to the present day is a testament to its enduring appeal and versatility. This stone tells the story of Salento’s history, traditions, and artistic heritage, making it a central element in both preservation and innovation within local architecture. Its role in the art and architecture of Italy—past and present—underscores a legacy of beauty, artistry, and cultural heritage. The stone’s timeless elegance continues to inspire new generations of artists and architects, making it a perennial favorite in the world of design and construction.

Love the Look of Lecce Stone?

GIO Tile has expertly captured the essence of the historic Lecce stone in our latest porcelain tile collection, Salento. This series is designed to mirror the distinctive warm, creamy hues and fine-grained texture of authentic Lecce limestone, making it a perfect choice for both traditional and modern interiors. Salento porcelain tile is available in 8×16, 16×24, and a Versailles pattern. Reach out today for a sample of Salento! (Free to the trade.)

GIO Salento, Versailles Pattern
GIO Salento, Versailles Pattern

 

From Underground to Urban Chic: Gio Looks at the Evolution of Subway Tiles

Subway tiles have a storied past that dates back to the early 20th century, originally crafted for the iconic New York City subway stations in 1904. Subway designers chose these tiles for their bright, reflective surfaces, which helped to illuminate the underground spaces with their limited light. The original subway tiles were characterized by their rectangular shape, typically measuring 3 inches by 6 inches, and their glossy white finish.

The new tile design was a hit, not just for its functionality but also for its clean and timeless aesthetic. Subway tiles quickly made the transition from public spaces into private homes, becoming a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchens due to their durability and ease of cleaning.

Today, subway tiles have evolved far beyond their classic white ceramic origins. Modern variations play with color, size, texture, and layout. Traditional glossy white tiles are now joined by options in matte and luminous glazes, as well as glass, metal, and even wood-looks. Sizes range widely, offering smaller and larger formats encouraging creative installations like herringbone, vertical stacking, and basket weave patterns.

Color is another area where subway tiles have seen significant innovation. No longer limited to white, these tiles are available in a broad spectrum of hues, from soft pastels to bold, saturated colors. This expansion in choices allows interior designers and homeowners to use subway tiles to complement a neutral palette or make a vibrant statement.

Texture and dimension have also come into play, with modern subway tiles featuring  3D, crackled, beveled, textured brick, or handcrafted-look surfaces, adding depth and character to spaces. Such textures can introduce an artisanal feel, bridging the gap between classic appeal and contemporary design.

While subway tiles have evolved to offer fresh, exciting possibilities for modern interiors, they still retain their beloved status for the simplicity and functionality that made them a staple over a century ago. Tile designers continue to put new twists on the “expected,” allowing subway tile to not only endure but to remain at the forefront of tile design. The latest on-trend colors, unique finishes, unconventional installation patterns, and dimensional designs are some of the modern iterations that are keeping this classic so current. This evolution not only showcases the enduring appeal of subway tiles but also highlights their versatility in adapting to current trends and preferences, making them a timeless choice for both residential and commercial interior design.

GIO offers a wide range of modern subway tile styles. Here’s a look at some of the newest additions to our subway tile lineup.

Shades

Handmade and highly refined effects of shimmery glass, glimmer, and vibrant color create these sophisticated “shades of subway” in our Shades wall tile collection.

GIO Shades, Light Verde 3 x10 Field Tile (Wall) and Coccio, Light Grey Field Tile (Floor)
GIO Shades, Light Verde 3 x10 Field Tile (Wall) and Coccio, Light Grey Field Tile (Floor)

Nuance

Nuance subway tile offers a beautiful and bold brick style in both matte and glossy finishes. It is perfect for mixing to create a look that feels almost textured or patterned because of how the glossy tiles play with light when juxtaposed with the matte tiles. The zellige artisanal effect of the tiles gives them a handmade look, offering character and depth to spaces.

GIO Nuance wall tile, Verde 2x6 Matte Field Tile
GIO Nuance wall tile, Verde 2×6 Matte Field Tile

Colorplay

Our Colorplay subway tile collection color body, unglazed tile offered in all the necessary neutrals, every workhorse size, and polished or matte finish–absolutely durable and enduring for demanding commercial environments.

GIO Colorplay, Crema 2 x 10 Bright Field Tile
GIO Colorplay, Crema 2 x 10 Bright Field Tile

Brick_Roma

Brick_Roma subway tile is a unique, elongated expression of Roman history. The line is available in five shimmery, hip hues in a slender 2’x18′ size.

GIO Brick_Roma, Light Grey 2x18 Field Tile brick
GIO Brick_Roma, Light Grey 2×18 Field Tile brick

Brick_Cotta

Another cool brick look, our Brick_Cotta subway tile is a replica of the handmade Cotto Bricks, also known as London Stock Brick. The  subway line is a linear 3″x10″, available in six rich, earthen hues.

GIO Brick_Cotto, Verde 3x10 Field Tile
GIO Brick_Cotto, Verde 3×10 Field Tile

 

Chroma

Chroma subway tile collection has it all, with a trio of finishes (glossy, matte, and fluted) in a veritable rainbow of modern hues, classically designed in a handmade artisan style.

GIO Chroma, Taupe 3x8 Glossy and Matte Field Tile

Antico

Modern style & shape meets old-world aesthetics in our Antico subway collection. The handcrafted look lines is five-color subway stunner.

GIO Antico, Bianco 2.5x10 Field Tile
GIO Antico, Bianco 2.5×10 Field Tile

Check out all of GIO’s Subway-style tile collections here.

Subway Tiles

GIO is your gateway to beautifully designed, strategically selected collections of floor and wall tile sure to fit your demanding specification requirements and unique style. We look forward to working with you!

GIO Explores Tile Styles: Masterful Imitations

Tile has been a popular choice for interiors for centuries, and it has gone through many changes in terms of formats and finishes over time. Tile technology has advanced so much that it can be hard to tell the difference between ceramic tile and the natural material it’s emulating. Even the textures can be replicated so accurately that it’s possible to be fooled even when touching the surface. Rare stones, beautiful hardwoods, and many other valuable materials can all be beautifully replicated in ceramic and porcelain.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles often have advantages over the “real” materials found in nature. Tile is made primarily of clay and water and contains no VOCs, which means it promotes good indoor air quality. It is impermeable, making it water-resistant and, therefore, resistant to mold and mildew. Additionally, tile has a long lifespan, making its environmental impact low. Porcelain tile is a beautiful and sustainable way to showcase natural materials without depleting the earth. It is also easy to clean and maintain, making it especially attractive to commercial building owners. GIO offers a range of lines that closely resemble their more natural (and likely less durable) counterparts.  Let the GIO “Faux Show” begin!

MARVELOUS MARBLE LOOKS

Marble-look tiles have remained a timeless trend for many years. Thanks to advancements in tile technology, ceramic surfaces now offer limitless possibilities, including highly realistic imitations of luxurious marbles in impressively large sizes.

MARMI_SATIN

Marmi_Satin porcelain tile is a stunning collection of exquisite marbles paired with a brushed satin finish, adding spectacular stone elegance to any space.

GIO Marmi_Satin, Bluette 24 x24 Rectified and Brushed Field Tile
GIO Marmi_Satin, Bluette 24 x24 Rectified and Brushed Field Tile

MURAL

This bold collection of polished large-format 24×48 tiles infuses interior designs with the striking art of nature. Mural porcelain tile is available in two captivating assortments—luxurious marbles and two animal-inspired designs—these tiles bring a daring touch to any wall-to-wall space.

GIO Mural, Aqua Onyx 24x48 Polished & Rectified
GIO Mural, Aqua Onyx 24×48 Polished & Rectified

CREMA_AVORIO

Crema_Avoria floor and wall tile embodies the elegance of prestigious Sicilian marble with its rich veining, all captured in a luxurious porcelain palette.

GIO Crema_Avorio, 24 x 48 Polished & Rectified
GIO Crema_Avorio, 24 x 48 Polished & Rectified

VARENNA

Drawing inspiration from materials quarried in the radiant Lombardy region of Italy, Varenna porcelain tile features a striking contrast of black and white marble porcelain. Its dramatic veining makes it perfect for creating a bold statement in any space.

Room scene with GIO Varenna,Bianca 24 x 48 Honed & Rectified Field Tile
Room scene with GIO Varenna,Bianca 24 x 48 Honed & Rectified Field Tile

RENOIR

Dramatic, elegant, and timeless, Renoir marble-look porcelain tile offers sumptuous shades, shapes, and sizes set to enhance any style of space.

GIO Renoir, Arabescato 32x32 Polished & Rectified Field Tile
GIO Renoir, Arabescato 32×32 Polished & Rectified Field Tile

BIANCA

Classically modern and eternally stylish, this marble-look tile captures the distinctive striations and variations of Carrara marble. Bianca porcelain tile is available in large and mosaic sizes and polished or matte finishes.

GIO Bianca, Carrara 24 x 48 Polished & Rectified
GIO Bianca, Carrara 24 x 48 Polished & Rectified

 

STATUARIETTO BIANCO

Experience the boldness of Statuarietto Bianco porcelain floor and wall tile, featuring dramatic veining and marble elegance. Available in a variety of statuary sizes, this tile offers endless possibilities for any porcelain project.

GIO Statuarietto Bianco, 30 x 30 Polished & Rectified statuarietto
GIO Statuarietto Bianco, 30 x 30 Polished & Rectified statuarietto

 

WOOD YOU BELIEVE?

The appearance of wood has gone beyond being just a trend and is now considered a staple in the surfacing industry. Advancements in printing technology have made wood-look tiles increasingly realistic. There is also a growing trend towards more artistic wood looks rather than strictly authentic ones. Regardless of the direction you choose, it’s clear that wood looks are a lasting presence in the industry.

ATELIER

Wood-look porcelain achieves a minimalist style with flawless Norwegian chic. Atelier porcelain wood-look planks are available in four fresh, lightly-grained hues in standard or chevron.

Atelier Wood Look Floor and Wall Tile by GIO in Grey 8x40

TIGERWOOD

Tigerwood wood-look porcelain tile is a durable surface solution that replicates the diverse graining, rings, and wavy wooden tones of a revered Brazilian hardwood species. It comes in plank sizes for seamless installations.

GIO Tigerwood, Saddle 6x 36 Rectified
GIO Tigerwood, Saddle 6x 36 Rectified

UMBER

Umber is a classic wood look porcelain in four fresh tones interpreted in powerful porcelain planks, plus an exterior paver for on-trend looks inside or out.

GIO Umber, Bianco 8x 48 Rectified
Umber, Bianco 8x 48 Rectified

VERSAILLES

Vesrailles masterfully replicates centuries-old parquet in a new range featuring modern planks, a criss-cross inlay design, plus a listello mosaic.

Versailles by GIO Floor and Wall Tile
Versailles, 24×24 Grey Rectified Inlay

MODERN

This contemporary collection of porcelain tile planks offers a sleek, minimalist style. Modern comes in four gorgeous, go-anywhere colors and designer herringbone accents.

Modern Floor and Wall Tile in charcoal 8x36
Modern, Charcoal 8 x36

SENSATIONAL STONE LOOKS

Stone-look tiles add a chic and artistic touch to any space. They are versatile, providing a myriad of style options, and offer the advantages of exceptional durability and easy maintenance.

BLUESTONE_PIERRE

Inspired by Belgian Bluestone, a timeless and beautiful limestone, Bluestone_Pierre large-format porcelain tile offers a classic appeal with its rich colors, dark tones, and ancient fossils. This unique series features a stunning porcelain interpretation with tumbled edges, capturing the essence of the stone in each piece.

GIO Bluestone_Pierre, Nero 16x24
GIO Bluestone_Pierre, Nero 16×24

SALENTO

Inspired by the light, luminous Lecce limestone of Italy, Salento porcelain tile is interpreted in a trio of select sizes.

GIO Salento, Versailles Pattern
GIO Salento, Versailles Pattern

SLAB_48

Slab_48 porcelain panels blend modern design with innovation. These lightweight, vibrant panels are versatile and stunning, enhancing any style of space with their extraordinary appearance.

GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished
GIO Slab_48, Onyx Green 48 x110 Polished

ONYX_LUX

Onyx_Lux porcelain tile is a luxuriously large, elegant onyx with rich and contrasting colors. It is a polished porcelain with pastel shades and stunning swirls for walls and floors.

GIO Onyx_Lux, Dark 29 x 58 Polished & Rectified
GIO Onyx_Lux, Dark 29 x 58 Polished & Rectified

JURA

Jura porcelain tile offers rich, neutral, and light organic tones blended with fossils and shells in a timeless limestone interpretation, available in a trio of finishes.

GIO Jura, Light Beige 24x48 Rectified Field Tile
GIO Jura, Light Beige 24×48 Rectified Field Tile

 

MIRABELLA

Mirabella porcelain tile is a lively collection inspired by limestone, influenced by the quarries of Portugal, and blended with a quartet of contemporary colors and subtle striations.

GIO Mirabella, Ivory 24x48 Rectified Field Tile
GIO Mirabella, Ivory 24×48 Rectified Field Tile

PETRA

Slate, stone & rock influence this illustration of stylish stoneware in porcelain. Petra porcelain tile is available in a variety of sizes, timeless tones, and two textures for today’s trends.

GIO Petra, Anthracite 24x48 Honed Field Tile
GIO Petra, Anthracite 24×48 Honed Field Tile

CARDOSO

Inspired by Pietra del Cardoso, a sandstone quarried in Italy, Cardoso has an elegant, sophisticated style. This line is available in three authentically detailed colors and generous sizes.

GIO Cardoso, Grey 24x48 Rectified
Cardoso, Grey 24×48 Rectified

MATERA

Bold stone style inspires this enduring porcelain line. Matera porcelain tile comes in a range of diverse sizes and four rich hues.

GIO Matera, Anthracite 24x48 Rectified
Anthracite 24×48 Rectified

FORZA

Forza offers travertine’s luxe look in all its vein-cut, sophisticated glory. This timeless stone-look porcelain collection comes in a generously sized field tile plus two different mosaics.

GIO Forza, Taupe 24x24
Forza, Taupe 24×24

 

VENETO

Veneto is a chic porcelain tile inspired limestone and concrete, perfect for modern, industrial styles. This stone look collection is available in three neutral hues, generous sizes, and trims.

 

Veneto Floor and Wall Tile by GIO
Veneto Porcelain Floor & Wall tile in Bianco 24×48

 

GIO is your gateway to beautifully designed, strategically selected collections of floor and wall tiles sure to fit your demanding specification requirements and unique style. We’re here to help you stay on top of your design projects during these unusual times with digital resources, free sample delivery, and virtual presentations. We look forward to working with you!