A visit to the San Gottardo Archives

In late October, before the winter snow closed the pass, Jeremie and Patrick spent two days in Airolo at the archives of the San Gottardo Museum. We wish to thank the museum director, Carlo Peterposten, who showed us 9 visitors’ books from the Hotel Mont Prosa and 16 visitors’ books from the San Gottardo hospice, both located at the San Gottardo pass.

Travellers with little or no means could get a free meal and a bed for the night at the hospice, while guests who could afford it stayed at the Hotel Mont Prosa, where they could find more comfortable quarters and individual rooms. As one of the main passes across the Alps, the San Gottardo had been a busy pass long before the nineteenth century. Its importance faded with the opening of the San Gottardo railway tunnel in 1882. As the longest tunnel in the world at the time, its opening changed the face of Europe, and helped regionally, for example, by developing tourism in the canton of Ticino.

As the visitors’ books date from before and after the opening of the tunnel, we hope that they will help us understand how the situation changed for the hotel and hospice once travellers started taking the tunnel instead of crossing the Gotthard pass.

The Old Sosta, or store house, which houses the Saint-Gothard National Museum
The Hotel Mont Prosa, with the old hospice in the background
The Hotel Mont Prosa, today known as the Hotel San Gottardo