The removal of the Costa Concordia cruise-ship wreck from a reef off Tuscany's Giglio Island began on Monday, five months after a disaster that claimed headlines worldwide, reported Italian newsagency Ansa.
The Concordia hit a rock and capsized in January, killing 32 people in one of Italy's worst naval disasters since the Second World War.
Removal operations began with the cutting of the huge liner's mast.
Last month the salvage company chosen for the operation said it would take between nine and 12 months to remove the Concordia.
"We think we can do it by February," said the Italian-American consortium Titan Salvage-Micoperi.
By the end of August, the half-sunken ship will be secure and no longer at risk of slipping off the rocks where it is partially beached, the company said.
"Protecting the environment will have top priority during all phases of work," the company said.
Earlier projections from Costa Crociere, which owns the Costa, said the ship would be out by spring 2013.
The removal project has an estimated cost of 300 million euros. Captain Francesco Schettino is being probed for multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, abandoning ship, abandoning those in need of help and failing to communicate properly with the maritime authorities.
The commander was dubbed 'captain coward' in the international media after recordings of a conversation with coast guards suggested he refused orders to return to the semi-submerged Concordia after leaving before evacuation operations had been completed.
The ship hit the rock and started taking on water after Schettino deviated from the programmed route to sail close to the island and give it a 'salute'.
The order to abandon ship came over an hour after the liner had hit the rock, which Schettino claims was uncharted.