White *marble*quarries in NW Italy. Perhaps first exploited on a small scale by the *Etruscans, they were further developed after the foundation of the colony of *Luna in 177 bce, which acted as a port. Large-scale quarrying began in the 1st cent. bce. *Mamurra, *Caesar's praefectus fabrum (see fabri), was the first to veneer the walls of his house with Carrara (Plin. HN 36. 7. 48), and may have opened up the quarries for Caesar's building programme, replacing the use of Attic white marbles (see pentelicon). The reconstruction of the *Regia (37 bce) is often regarded as the earliest example of large-scale use of Carrara, and the industry (for buildings, sculpture, and *sarcophagi) reached its peak under Trajan, before giving way to the employment of marbles from the east Mediterranean. It was however partly revived in the 4th cent. ce.
Latifundia (large estates) ‘have ruined Italy and are now ruining the provinces’. *Pliny (1) the Elder (HN 18. 35) put latifundia at the centre of debate about the development of the Roman rural economy. But what were latifundia? Divergent modern definitions abound and confuse: large pastoral ranches beginning in the 3rd cent. bce; slave-staffed oil- and wine-producing villas (either single properties or the scattered estates of one owner) first described by M. *Porcius Cato(1)c. 160 bce (see villa; slavery); any property above 500 iugera (125 ha.: 309 acres) of whatever period: all of which ‘ruined’ Italy by forcing *peasants from the land. Others dismiss Pliny's remark as generalized nostalgia and refer to archaeological surveys that not only emphasize the diversity of rural settlement but also show that villas and peasant farms often existed side by side. Yet if Pliny is allowed credence, the term latifundia applies strictly to extensive unitary estates, resulting from an aggregation of properties, too large to farm according to the labour-intensive methods of cultivation of the slave-staffed villas recommended by the *agricultural writers (HN 18.