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Route of Stockalper

Enterprising merchant and nobleman, around 1630, Baron Stockalper brought improvement and safety to the old medieval mule track that crossed the Simplon Pass.

Thanks to the Baron, the Simplon Pass became the main commercial passage between Northern and Southern Europe (since 1648 Baron - as Maître du Sel - had a monopoly on the salt trade in Valais), connecting the Po valley with the Rhone valley.

In honor of Baron Stockalper, this road was therefore named Stockalper Way and the Baron won the nickname Roi du Simplon (King of the Simplon).

It is along this path that in 1666 the Baron had the Hospice of the Simplon built (originally known under the name of Old Hospital) on the ruins of a previous structure dating back to 1235. In Gondo (where among other things he managed gold mines), to promote business and trade, he also had a building several stories high erected, protected by towers, to serve as warehouse and lodging, nicknamed Stockalper Tower.

The works promoted by Baron Stockalper along the Stockalperweg also enabled the development of an efficient postal service, entrusted until then to wandering monks, musicians, buskers and bishops. Indeed Stockalper sensed that the introduction of a fixed postal system would be beneficial to business. In 1640 it was established as a courier on horseback carrying over the Simplon Pass letters from Geneva to Milan in eight days in summer and ten in winter.Along the new road "Simplon Stockalperweg", therefore, new staging posts with stables for horses were built.

The Stockalperweg mule track still exists and can still be hiked. From Brig to Simplon Pass, it runs parallel to the current road (on its left bank). Then, from Simplon, it veers strongly to the South, leaving Val Divedro and reaching Domodossola via Bognanco, through a natural, untouched landscape.