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The 20th century, the ski lift century on Monte Rosa

The tourist development and drastic economic change experienced by Alagna and Riva at the end of the 19th century transformed the centre of Alagna. Beautiful villas in Liberty style were erected, destined for tourists and fused without clashing with the antique Walser architectural style: Casa Smitt, villa Bertola, villa Viotti, villa Gabbio, villa Grober. The Liberty style in Alagna was imported from France and Spain where many Alagnese made their fortune managing well established businesses. It fused with the local wood and stone architecture and gave life to a single expression of art nouveau which characterized the lower Valsesian valley. Then the two World Wars ended this era and the rebirth was slow and tedious. Post - war Italy looked towards the future, but Valsesia had a hard time recovering. Depopulation, the economic and tourism crisis painted the period immediately after the war, a bleak grey. Then in 1950, the first ski lift the Belvedere gondola was constructed in Alagna, from the town centre to above the Otro plain, where there was both a ski lift and a chair lift. At the top, hotel Belvedere offered rooms and refreshments, but in 1972, the ski lift was closed after a terrible accident that compromised its service. The following year the Belvedere hotel burned down closing the expansion of the ski pistes towards Otro definitely. In the meantime though, the ski lift to Punta Indren was constructed, which led up to 3260 m in the heart of Mont Rosa and marked the passage between the past and present for Alagna and Riva. The Punta Indren ski lift, inaugurated on the 1st March 1965, was a project of Giorgio Rolandi, a prudent businessman who understood the value of something that would have greatly influenced the economy of the town.

The ski lift was made up of 3 parts, 6km and 300m long and reached the ski lift station Indren. It was a modern structure with a restaurant and bar at a height of 3260 m.
The ski lift station at Punta Indren was constructed in winter, with work continuing in February and March, thereby allowing the warm cement to reach the construction site on Mont Rosa using a cableway that took 50 minutes to get to the top and guaranteed the laying of 6/7 cubic meters per day in a warmed up room. The same cableway was used by engineer Rolandi to reach the construction site which he kept under constant supervision. For this reason a single seat was made that could be hooked onto the cables when needed and he rode it, a hair-raising experience, up to Punta Indren without a problem. Many of the towns’ people of Alagna and Riva helped with the construction of Rolando's ski lift. It lifted their spirits and stimulated economical recovery. Technology greatly advanced on Mont Rosa and the construction of the pylon of Mullero, 65 m high with a foundation of 7 m, was the first in that era. The ski lift of Indren and Bors opened the ski season and created the necessary conditions for the free ride paradise.

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