Most probably, Venice is the European city with the smallest asphalted area, which accounts only for about the 2.5% of its dry land area. Over 80% of it is paved in stone, a non-polluting natural material.
This process began in the 16th century and in the span of three centuries led trachyte to progressively replace dirt and bricks in stretcher and rowlock courses. Trachyte is a volcanic stone that since the Republic of Venice is quarried in the Euganean Hills, about 60km far from Venice.
In addition, the white Istrian stone was introduced for the outer sides of the fondamenta and to ornate the masegni pavements, as in St Mark’s Square and in front of many churches, in accordance with the large use made of that of stone for buildings’ façades and wellheads. The presence of Istrian stone in the city dates back to the annexation of the Istrian towns to the Republic of Venice in the 13th-14th century, and particularly of Orsera (Vrsar). Due to the quarry restrictions that Croatia recently imposed, the Istrian stone is increasingly replaced by the less valuable biancone quarried in Trani, for instance for the fondamenta at Punta della Dogana.
Porfido, in cubes or tiles, was introduced mostly in the first decades of the 20th century for the street paving of the newly developed residential areas of Sant’Elena and Santa Marta, and for the external areas in front of new buildings, as Santa Lucia railway station.