The spruce trees in Italy's Fiemme Valley (via NPR) audio and transcript
He goes from trunk to trunk, crossing flawed candidates off his list.
"This one over here was struck by lightning," he says. "Who knows what kind of sound its violin would make?"
Then he finds a contender: "It shoots up perfectly straight. It's very cylindrical. No branches at the bottom. If you ask me, there's a violin trapped inside."
Mazzucchi takes out a manual drill called a borer, and twists it like a corkscrew through the bark. He listens carefully to the knocking sound the borer makes each time it hits a new tree ring.
Pulling out a core sample shaped like a pencil, he concludes the tree is an excellent specimen. A lumberjack chops down trees like this one and carts them to a lumberyard nearby, where the spruce is milled into sections.
Local instrument maker Cecilia Piazzi examines a piece of that milled wood, and declares it "magnificent."
"We use it for making the table — that's the beautiful part on the front of a violin or cello, with the soundholes on the surface," Piazzi says. "Yes, this piece is the right piece. I can tell just by flicking it."