Photos by Michael Reis

Pietra della Lessinia Srl, which is located in Schioppo - a village in the commune of Sant’ Anna d’Alfaedo near Verona, Italy - has been a producer of Lessinia Stone since the 1960s.

Initially founded by Luciano, Luigi and Adriano Quintarelli as the Lessinia Stone Co., Pietra della Lessinia Srl is an Italian stone-processing company rich in history and craftsmanship. The Quintarelli family, who still owns the stone business today, initially started out cutting blocks by hand in the early 1960s. Through the decades, the management of the company passed down from generation to generation, and in the 1980s, the business officially became named Pietra della Lessinia.

Today, the company, which is located in Schioppo -- a village in the commune of Sant' Anna d'Alfaedo near Verona, Italy -- utilizes modern stone-processing techniques and equipment for extracting and fabricating Lessinia Stone. The material, which is a variety of limestone, is a sedimentary, calcareous, pink-and-white-colored stone that can be employed for both interior and exterior applications. It is comprised of horizontal layers with a thickness ranging from 4 to 40 cm.

When driving through the area, it is apparent that the stone has been part of the fabric of local architecture for many years. It is prominently seen in applications such as fences, barns and in slab form for roofing. The remnants of an old quarry, which dates back to the Middle Ages, can still be found on the outskirts of town.

The company owns a 215,000-square-foot piece of property where it operates its quarry year round. But although Pietra della Lessinia owns the land, it continually requires a license to quarry.

The quarry

Pietra della Lessinia owns a 215,000-square-foot piece of property, where it operates its quarry year round. But although the company owns the land, it continually requires a license to quarry, explained Paola Bugnotto, who works for Pietra della Lessinia. According to the company's expectations, the quarry that it is currently working has about another 20 years of material left.

Because there is a soft clay between the layers of Lessinia Stone, it is easier to extract and work, according to Pietra della Lessinia. The first step in the quarrying process is to use a diamond blade to cut blocks to a desired size (similar to cutting brownies in a pan) -- depending on the project. Next, a pneumatic hammer is used to remove the block, and a loader lifts the block of stone from the quarry face.

Bugnotto explained that the company quarries 7 meters at a time. At the time of Stone World's visit, workers were at the halfway point. "Once they quarry the entire 7 meters, they will build a road and start a new area," she said.

Pietra della Lessinia also operates two factories where it produces many cut-to-size pieces.

The factories

Pietra della Lessinia also operates two factories. It produces many cut-to-size pieces with a variety of finishes, including rough cut, corduroy, smooth, flamed and brushed. The factory is equipped with a Donatoni calibrating line, which uses Tenax abrasives, and a Zambon large-diameter, single-blade circular saw. Bugnotto explained that workers try to bunch smaller blocks together so that they get the same cut.

At the time of Stone World's visit, Pietra della Lessinia had recently introduced a new product -- 1- x 1-meter pieces. "Most of the tiles are used for floor and wall cladding in interior applications," said Bugnotto.

Additional equipment in the shop includes a Laiti and Petronilli multi-head saw, which can hold up to 30 blades. There is also a hand-working area where workers can finish corner polishing and specialty cuts.

In a second factory, two BM gangsaws are housed. These gangsaws are capable of cutting between 15 to 20 cm an hour. Additionally, the factory is equipped with a Venturini overhead crane.

Primarily, Pietra della Lessinia serves the Italian market, according to Bugnotto. The company does fabricate large-scale commercial jobs, such as a synagogue designed by world-renowned architect Mario Botta. To meet the demands of the U.S. market, Pietra della Lessinia has entered into an agreement with ASN Natural Stone, Inc. of San Francisco, CA, and Chicopee, MA. The company will be distributing Lessinia Stone at ASCTEX Architectural Stone & Ceramic Tile Exhibition, which will take place at NeoCon World's Trade Fair in the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, IL, from June 9 to 11, 2008.