Highlights and tour details
VIA STOCKALPER connects Brig in Canton Vallese with Domodossola through Valle del Sempione in 4 stages: it is one of the 12 Cultural Itineraries of National Interest in Switzerland on the tracks of the trade route created by Baron Kaspar Jodok Stockalper. Great businessman, entrepreneur and politician of Valais of the 17th century, Stockalper remodernised the ancient salt road through Passo del Sempione with bridges and refuges to allow caravans of goods to transit, even in winter. He started a trade network between Italy and the French markets that was profitable enough to earn him the title of "King of Simplon". From his magnificent Castle of Brig he controlled trade with Antwerp, Paris and the English Channel ports to the north and with Milan to the south.
Kaspar Jodock Stockalper was born in Brig in 1609 into an already very rich family of probable Italian origins. His wealth allowed him to travel all over Europe and to start laying the foundations on which to set his future trades. He was the owner of all the mines of the Valais area, and gave work to about 5000 men. His continued success triggered the envy of the noblemen of Valais. Fallen into political disgrace in his country, he took refuge in voluntary exile in Domodossola where he was received with all the honours and lived several years at the Sacred Mount Calvario of Domodossola contributing financially to the realisation of the rich artistic heritage. After five years of exile, he returned to his homeland in 1685, after the death of one of his political opponents, and found his popularity unchanged. He died in 1691 at the age of 82; he is buried in the Church of Glis, near Brig.
Following the same route, in 1805 Napoleon had the first road open to vehicles built over the Alps to move army and weapons across Passo del Sempione. From Passo del Monscera passed an ancient communication and trade route between Val d'Ossola and Canton Vallese, used by the Valais troops who descended to conquer Ossola. Pope Gregory X used the same route on his return from the Council of Lyon, in the autumn of 1275.
Points of interest
Historic centre of Briga, Historic centre of Domodossola, Sacred Mount Calvariy in Domodossola (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Sempione Ecomuseum (Stockalper Castle in Briga, the lodge at Sempione Village, the Napoleonic barracks, the fort at the Gondo gorge and the Gold Museum in Gondo), Napoleonic hospice of Sempione now managed by the canons of the Congregation of Gran San Bernardo, Gondo gorge, lakes and peatbogs in upper Val Bognanco, Church of San Lorenzo (Bognanco), Bognanco Fonti and Spa Centre, villages of Val Bognanco, stone bridge and gorge of Dagliano, Church and wine press of Monteossolano, village of Cisore, Parish church of Vagna, traditional rural architecture
Dining and accommodation facilities in Engiloch, Simplon, Gaby, Passo del Monscera, San Bernardo, San Lorenzo, Bognanco A scheduled bus service Connects San Lorenzo (Bognanco) with Domodossola. A scheduled bus of the Swiss Post connects Briga with Domodossola through the Simplon Pass
A26 motorway in the direction of Gravellona Toce, from here SS 33 del Sempione, exit Domodossola. You reach the car park of the Vigezzo Railway and using the pedestrian underpass the station of Domodossola, State Railway.
Source: Ente di Gestione Aree Protette Ossola
Itinerary code: STK
Recommended period: June to October
Historical interest: Yes
Access by public transport: Yes
Classification: Medium and low mountain provincial
Provinces crossed: Distretto dei Laghi
Notes on public transport
Railway stations of reference Domodossola (IT) and Briga (CH). Timetables: www.trenitalia.com; www.bls.ch By bus: Postbus Domodossola - Briga. Timetables: www.autopostale.ch A scheduled bus Connects San Lorenzo (Bognanco) with Domodossola (www.comazzibus.com)