Saas-Fee Stories is a work in progress. It aims to show the evolution of a Swiss mountain village from poverty to prosperity to uncertainty to stability. It speaks through the voices of its oldest inhabitants and through the eyes of each successive generation.


Antonia Anthamatten

22 April 2017

Despite early tragedy, Antonia Anthamatten persevered throughout her life. At age 20 she was courted by a 32 year old army officer, which was considered “scandalous” at the time.


As Antonia explains, “He could have had any girl in the village, but he chose me!” Three days into their honeymoon in Ticino, he divulged to her that he had been asked to go on an assignment to Srinagar, India with another colleague in the military. During the four agonising months he was away, only one letter could be exchanged between them. He returned with many souvenirs from the valley of Kashmir. But just two years later, he had a fatal accident while on a ski touring trip, falling 22 metres into a glacier. Because of deep snow, it took 10 days to locate his body - at a cost of 10,000 CHF. Suddenly, Antonia was a widow, with a five-month old baby boy.


Antonia was born at home in Saas-Fee, the fifth child of a family of 8. Life was hard for their mother. They had one cow which was milked in the morning and afternoon. Their mother would make cheese and the children drank milk. But to make ends meet, she worked as a seamstress in the village and every evening in the then Grand Hotel from 7-9 pm.


Six years later Antonia remarried, Albert Anthamatten, who “wanted a girl from Saas-Fee!” Being as enterprising as her mother, Antonia studied English and then taught local people who were keen to learn the language because of growing tourism. She also studied French in Sion and worked for a family bakery in Montreux. Recalling her childhood, Antonia reminisces that there were only rocks and flowers where the present parking garage stands. Every Sunday her father would take the kids there to teach them about wildflowers.


While Albert was a ski instructor and in the hotel business, he had a special love for stones which form part of their collection. Ten years ago, Antonia also lost him, to illness.


Nevertheless, she has kept up her interest in the Saas-Fee environment and in flowers which surround her at all times.

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