Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan and cream-colored varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot spring or in a limestone cave. In the latter it can form stalactites, stalagmites and other speleothems. It is frequently used in Italy and elsewhere as a building material.
The resulting stone is a smooth and very hard substance further characterized by its porous surface. These pores are the result of gases escaping as the travertine is formed.
By the time it is quarried, travertine is naturally beautiful - a smooth, dense stone that exhibits a notable creamy color that evokes a certain old-world refinement.
Extensive deposits exist at Tivoli, Italy, near Rome. In fact, travertine derives its name from this town. Tivoli was known as Tibur in ancient Roman times. The ancient name for the stone was lapis tiburtinus meaning tibur stone, which has been corrupted to travertine.