Luckily enough, (and when speaking of games of chance luck is always of the essence), the end of a war often coincides with the beginning of both public works and private business ventures which improve the lot of the people who have been worst-hit by the conflict. After the end of the war it was the inspired idea of Mayor Elia Page to bet on good fortune – not his own, but that of other people. He thought that a casino was exactly what was needed: gamblers in search of luck would help restore the fortunes of the region.
Saint-Vincent has been a tourist attraction for a very long time – from 20 July 1770 to be precise. On that day the abbot Jean-Baptiste Perret, a passionate chemist and minerologist, discovered a spring which he believed to have therapeutic benefits. Tests confirmed his theory and the ‘Fons Salutis’ (the Spring of Health) became a tourist attraction.
During the summers months of the years 1827 to 1829, Queen Maria Teresa, wife of Vittorio Emanuele I of Sardinia, and her three daughters, the princesses Maria Anna, Maria Cristina and Beatrice Maria, underwent the spa cure, staying at Challant Castle in neighbouring Châtillon. Thereafter, the high society of Northern Italy began to visit Saint-Vincent in order to take the waters. In 1850 Silvio Pellico spent time at the priest’s house, after his imprisonment in the Spielberg fortress.
In 1854 it was the turn of another Queen:
Maria Teresa, widow of Carlo Alberto, who tried (alas in vain) to recuperate at the spa. The boom times arrived for the spa and the Alpine Riviera after the middle of the century. By 1872 the area already boasted three hotels: the ‘Scudo di Francia’, ‘l'Hôtel des Quatre-Saisons’ e ‘l'Hôtel du Lion d'Or’ (the latter is still in business today). There was also a ‘casino’ of sorts, but it was more of a club, where people could meet to talk, listen to music and dance, than a place for gambling; indeed no gambling ever took place there.