Story: A striking passion

Where artists work together as friends

An international sculpture centre able to attract artists from all over the world and a Sculpture School offering a wide spectrum of courses, both located in Peccia.

Far from the shores of the lake and the bustling cities, in a wild and unspoilt corner of the Vallemaggia the purity of the rock shows its majesty. In Peccia, those who see the marble quarry remain breathless, while those who visit the Sculpture School, which celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2024, remain intrigued. Who are Almute and Alex?


Almute and Alex Naef, Sculpture School Peccia

Almute and Alex Naef,  Sculpture School Peccia
The music of the forge is like a dance. It’s a sound that can be heard all over the world and it comes naturally.

Upon leaving Locarno, the road is initially level and wide, before becoming steeper and full of bends. It makes its way through characteristic villages, testifying to a past that was also dominated by emigration and those who made their fortunes in the New World. Imposing walls of rock rise up above it, mountains are all around, the light, the strong, dense energy. Inspiration strikes you in Peccia.

We’re welcomed by the noise of the hammer striking the iron anvil where Alex is forging chisel tips. Behind him the fire is crackling in the forge. Alex Naef, director of the Sculpture School in Peccia, is a third-generation sculptor. Born in Canton of St. Gallen in 1954, his father and grandfather sculpted stone before him. After studying art and pedagogy, he has been in Peccia since 1986, where he has seen the sculpture school grow.

A huge challenge and a wonderful adventure, which Alex does not take on alone. He is accompanied by Almute Grossman Naef, co-director of the school and member of the Foundation Council at the International Sculpture Centre, which hosts exhibitions and artists’ residencies.

Today, during the six months it is open, the facility organises over forty weeks of courses attracting 400 participants, from professionals to beginners. Giving everyone the chance to be creative. This is the objective of the Sculpture School.

Our task was to give everyone the chance to be creative.

This is a very particular area. You can feel the history of the place and its inhabitants. People have always battled against stone and nature here. Almute feels the energy of this place, which influences those who come to Peccia to improve, to discover a hidden talent or simply to try out a new experience.

Peccia does not just stand out for its energy, but also for its white marble quarry. Situated around 5 km from the town as the crow flies, this quarry at 1,400 m a.s.l. is truly impressive.

It sometimes happens that a person arrives here without ever having held a chisel and, after two weeks, produces something that they would never have thought possible.

Pro tip
The marble used by Architect Mario Botta for the reconstruction of the church in Mogno comes from Peccia. Also the altar in the church of Giumaglio is made of marble from Peccia.
The marble quarry of Peccia is a pure white giant. Opened in 1946, it employed as many as forty people in the 1970s.
The precious blocks of red marble sought after all over Europe came from the quarries of Arzo. Now they have been brought back to life as a scenic stage.

In the village of Peccia, set between the mountains, you never feel alone. This new artistic centre immediately began to collaborate with universities, which saw the potential of the school at the foot of the mountains.

In the past several tonnes were exported  to northern Europe. The amphitheatre created by extracting the blocks is very eye-catching.

The International Sculpture Centre will host five artists in residence in turn, while the pavilion provides a space for international exhibitions. It is  a meeting place that aims to inspire creativity by promoting art and the local area.

The opening in May 2021, marked the crowning moment of Almute and Alex’s dream.


“The marble and sun of the south go very well together.”