The Swiss Alps are laced with impressive roads that take you from one valley to another. Which, in some cases, take you from one country to another. From one world to another as if you were traveling through a J.R.R. Tolkien story of strange distant lands and mighty kingdoms.
The Simplon Pass is a journey of this nature. Starting in one country, and ending up in another. On the way passing through a high plateau completely disconnected from beginning and end destinations. One being Brig in Switzerland, and the other, Domodossola in Italy. The pass has been an important Alpine thoroughfare for several centuries. The Romans first established it, it then developed into an important trade route, and later became a road during the Napoleonic occupation of early 1800s.
An impressive hospice was built by Kaspar Jodok von Stockalper, who traded salt from the Mediterranean to the rest of Europe. It made him The King of The Simplon. The hospice was taken over by the St Bernard monks after the fall of Napoleon. They are still there today, and it’s as if time had stopped on this high plateau. Stuck somewhere in the middle of nowhere, ironically, in the middle of very crowded Europe. It looks more like some Scottish medieval landscape than a Swiss postcard. On a moody rainy late fall afternoon, it felt as if the armies of Braveheart would come storming over the surrounding hills in defense of heir hidden stronghold.