In Sicily, the Stone industry, and the Food and Agricultural industry are the industries with the highest degree of internationalization, making Sicily one of the most important regions for the exportation of freestone, especially to Middle-Eastern markets.
The marble market covers a wide range at all production levels, from the rougher semi-cut marbles to the more precious cut marbles for furnishing and restoration work.
The sector includes the following categories:
- Uncut materials (marble and granite)
- Cut materials– freestone (tiles, mosaics, blocks)
- Basic cut (blocks, paving slabs, kerbsides)
Istat (Italian Statistics Office) estimates that approx. a million tonnes of marble is
produced each year. The most important output in the sector, which employs 4,000
workers in approx. 250 companies, is concentrated in the production districts of
Trapani, Catania and Ragusa.
Sector leader is the Province of Trapani with exports of approx. 35 million euros in 2006 - 60% of the Region's total value. Ragusa is also a strong market influence (up 32.6%) equal to 21.3% of total exports. Comiso, (Ragusa), in particular, is the second largest Italian centre for granite cutting with a large turnover, of which over 40% destined for sale on the North American and North European markets.
Among the areas of outstanding excellence, 3 centres are of particular interest, specializing in different product types:
- Perlato Sicilia - this marble has been exported highly successfully throughout the world, both as a finished and semi-cut product. It was used in the New York Kennedy Centre and Riyadh Airport in Saudi Arabia;
- Perlatino di Sicilia, Perlato Nuvolato, Botticino, Libeccio, Libeccio antico, Avorio venato, Breccie and Grigio, Nerello di Custonaci, found in the Trapani area;
- Comiso stone from the Ragusa area, exported to the Far East, USA, Central Europe, (also for sculpture) is enjoying a period of huge success;
- Etna Basalt or lava stone from the Catania area is extracted exclusively from volcanic areas and is especially known for its great durability (which is why it was favoured by the Romans for paving and construction). Production is increasing and it is sold both on national and overseas markets.
All the abovementioned materials are widely used in the building industry and, in particular, for exterior and interior covering or facing.