Porous stones like limestone, travertine and marble are a difficult consideration. The stones themselves look fantastic, and they have an elegance, a subtle warmth and colour schemes unique to them that no granite can compete with.
However, for a kitchen I would strongly recommend to keep your hands off them.
I am aware that North American publications push the white marble countertop look in traditional settings. It's luxurious and elegant looking.
My first client who went through with this look 10 years ago was originally from Europe, and as Europeans we know about the fact that marble will need 10 years to age gracefully, and I had discussed her choice with her and made sure he would be able to be patient.
From the moment the counter is being installed until the time it has accumulated many marks and stains to be considered 'gracefully aged' it will be a long and painfull process. No matter how well sealed, you will see every watermark from a fresh dish that cones straight out of the dishwasher, plus rings from wineglasses, stains from acidic products like vinegar, etc.
Sorry I don't have better news for you!
If you know that you are an anal personality, stay away from marble in the kitchen.
Good news - you might consider it for the bathroom, though! Typically one doesn't have the vast expanse of counter in a bathroom like on a kitchen island, so watermarks are typically not, or not as much, visible!
Cambria Quartz came out with a manmade marble-looking product in the summer of 2011, and although nothing can really match the real thing, the product they created comes as close as it gets to the real thing at the moment.
The traditional kitchen in the picture above has Travertine countertops.
Despite the fact that the house is a secondary home for empty-nesters, and that a housekeeper is looking after it, the counter looked marked and not cleaned when I took the photos 4 months after finishing the renovation. When I tried to 'clean up' for the photoshoot I noticed that those stains were permanent! The travertine had been well sealed by a very knowledgable countertop installer at the time of installation, which leads me to the conclusion that I would never want to use that type of stone again.
The 4x4' island is made from stained cherry, and the homeowner had asked for a cherry countertop. We agreed to add a layer of glass to make the wood more durable for its kitchen setting. The island was never meant to be a real work island, it's rather the space where the husband wants to sit while his wife is prepping something tasty to eat.