Arni Quarry Pictures

On Friday, Nov. 20, 1998, Digital Michelangelo project members Prof. Marc Levoy, Kari Pulli, Sean Anderson, Jeremy Ginsburg, Matt Ginzton, me (Lucas Pereira), Szymon Rusinkiewicz, and cs149 students Alana Chan, Dana Katter, Ephraim Luft, Joshua Schroeder, Amy Schultz, and Maisie Tsui took a field trip to the quarry at the town of Arni (near Carrara), 50 miles west of Florence in the Alpi Apuane mountains. We were accompanied by our guide, Matti Auvinen, a sculpting instructor who had carved for ten years at a marble workshop in Pietrasanta, and our intrepid bus driver.

We visited a working quarry run by the Henreaux Co, at the 5000-foot peak of Mt. Altissima, the same mountain from which many of Michelangelo's blocks of marble were extracted. Later in the day, we toured several marble-carving shops, to see how today's artisans work the stone.

A cutting yard in Serravezza, where the marble blocks are cut into sheets for architectural use.

Our 16-person bus, slightly bigger than a Chevy Suburban. Clockwise, from lower left: Alana, Jeremy, Szymon, Sean, Amy, Joshua, Maisie, Ephraim, Dana, and half of Kari.

The quarry sits at the peak of Mt. Altissima. Over the centuries since the quarries began, the marble dust has flowed down and whitened the mountainside.

Our first look at the quarry from the parking lot where the trucks pick up the blocks of marble.

Our group, upon arrival, steps out onto the cold windswept quarry loading area.

A white winter wonderland, year-round.

The sparkling white quarry walls loom some 200+ feet overhead.

Inside the quarry, protected from the wind, looking up at the ceiling of the solid marble cathedral, and the blue patch of sky above.

The ground was a strange mixture of white marble dust and ice. On the external faces of the quarry, occasional gusts of wind would whip up the marble dust into a frigid sandstorm.

Inside the quarry, the marble is extracted in huge blocks.

A very large chainsaw for cutting marble blocks.

From above, we could watch large tractors move the multi-ton stones as if they were children's blocks.

The view from the quarry back down the valley. You can see the access road on the left hillside.

Another view.

Another quarry structure, on a nearby outcropping. In the background is the coast and the Tirreno Sea.

Matt casting a long shadow on the marble ramps.

We walked up a road that wrapped around the backside of the quarry, to the very top of the mountain.

Still climbing.... foreground: Alana, Amy, Maisie, Ephraim, and Joshua.

Still climbing....

...And finally on top, with a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and the coast to the west.

Szymon, Prof. Levoy, and others look over the edge, down twenty stories of marble face.

Looking down from the top of the quarry.

Kari, Matti, and Dana, taking in the view from the top, before heading back down to the warmth of the waiting bus.

...Back in the town of Pietrasanta, after touring the marble-carving workshops, we stopped by this store, which sells some of the smaller marble pieces carved in town. Many of the bigger pieces can be found at the carving shops, or are made-to-order.

Finally, a few candid shots:

Dana and Matt, who's standing just a wee bit close to the edge...

Sean takes in the view.

Matt & Jeremy, chillin' against the quarry wall.

Ephraim and Alana, trying to stay warm.

Dana, leaning against two blocks of marble on the backside of the quarry.

Alana picks up a chunk of marble.

Jeremy Bonaparte.

Lucas, sliding on the ice.

Prof. Levoy, taking in the view on the backside of the quarry.

Matt and Josh.

Matt, wandering off again...

and again...

Lucas Pereira