The company manufactures and markets three main lines, Marmi, Pietre Naturali and Porcellanato Classico, and has recently boosted the Marmi range of marble-finished tiles.

A spokesman elaborates: ''Marmi is Ariostea's line of porcelain tiles with a marble finish. The tiles are manufactured using patented technologies that make it possible to industrially simulate the process which, over the centuries, leads to the formation of natural marble.

''The raw materials used - feldspar, kaolin, quartzite sand, clay - are all of natural origin, and are compacted by means of pressing and then fired at extremely high temperatures of 1,300 deg C to guarantee a uniform, compact material that is non-absorbent and highly resistant to stains or temperature fluctuations.

''The resulting tiles feature superior resistance to wear and abrasion, and the extremely low absorption level guarantees greater resistance to frost, staining, and chemical agents. What's more, as the tiles are homogeneous throughout their entire thickness, they can be mirror polished like natural marble.''

The Marmi range has six distinct lines: I Marmi Pregiati, Fiordimarmo, Permiere, Pietra di Roma, Stardust and I Veneziani and Ariostea has now boosted the Fiordimarmo collection with three new 'marble' lines called Select, Afyon and Rosa Egeo.

''Select, Afyon and Rosa Egeo are available in sizes of 40 by 40 cm with two surface finishes: honed and polished, and pre-polished which can be combined to create interesting design variations.

''Like all the other marble-finished products in the Fiordimarmo collection, Select, Afyon and Rosa Egeo are also available in a range of accessories, such as large steps and corners and angles for stairs, as well as sophisticated decorative pieces such as bands and rosettes, which are cut using the water-jet technique.

Ariostea has also launched a new I Veneziani collection that is said to combine the aesthetic effect of traditional artisan works of the past with the resistance, practicality and quick installation of modern porcelain stoneware. The I Veneziani collection is offered in the 30 by 30 cm sizes, in six colours and two surface finishes: honed and polished, and pre-polished to offer a combination of different surface finishes.