Deep within the Apuan Alps of Italy -- where CAI Mountaineering trails cross the quarry road -- Ezio Ronchieri extracts some of the Carrara region's finest materials. The underground, multi-level quarry produces Statuario, Carrara P, Calacatta and Arabescato marbles, and it is renowned for its high-quality materials. Recently, the quarry became even more noteworthy for its investment in a technologically advanced mobile chainsaw, which can reach virtually any area of the quarry with minimal setup time.

The quarry is located at an altitude of nearly 5,600 feet at the end of a winding road outside the village of Arni, about 90 minutes from Carrara. Stone is quarried at several levels within the site, and the various levels are connected by a series of ladders.

To extract the stone, the workers have a very specific cutting plan, where they work within different "rooms" or "galleries" within the quarry. Large chainsaws from Fantini, an Italian firm, are used to make vertical and horizontal cuts as needed, and they are in use throughout the quarry site.

Most recently, Ezio Ronchieri purchased the Fantini Model GU.70 chainsaw, a mobile machine designed to make cuts as high as nearly 20 feet from the ground. The chainsaw blade itself is capable of nearly a 10-foot cut in the stone, and it is equipped with STX diamonds from GE Superabrasives.

To operate the saw, the workers use a remote control to move the unit into position, and the chainsaw is then maneuvered into the proper spot. After pneumatic supports are automatically placed into position, sawing can begin.

In addition to the Model GU.70 chainsaw, Ezio Ronchieri has several other Fantini saws in operation at the quarry site. Some of these saws, which are used to cut vertically as well as horizontally, are well over 20 years old.

Once blocks are pulled from the quarry face, they are squared with diamond wire saws and maneuvered with a series of loaders. Large drilling rigs are also used for block squaring.

The production total at the quarry varies, depending on the stone being extracted and the section of the quarry the workers are mining. Also, given the value of the premium stones being produced by the quarry, Ezio Ronchieri focuses primarily on the quality of the blocks it extracts as opposed to the quantity.