The delightful mountainous village of Metsovo is built on the slopes of Pindos, at an altitude of 1100m, and it is a popular destination all year round. This wonderful Vlach community combines colourful nature, traditions, spicy cheese and excellent wines.
From the very first contact with this historic village, you are going to feel as a traveller into the past, to the 17th century. The local residents, thanks to their devotion, managed to maintain their local and traditional architecture. The buildings, constructed from stone and wood, will impress you with their unique style and the notable design elements. You can admire this remarkable architectural identity when going downhill on the main road that leads from the town’s entrance to the central square. Walk around the cobbled roads, discover traditional founts, and enjoy your food or coffee in the central square that is surrounded by pretty restaurants and cafes. An interesting visit on the main road, is the store of Vangelis Balabekos, an old famous tailor who makes traditional costumes. On the wall, are some unique handmade pieces, a fermeli, the foustanela vest that now wear Evzones(the members of the presidential guard), a black vest with braids, a female sigouni from Zagori and another from Kalarites(impressive coat without sleeves), and a vest with golden embroidery, a museum piece.
Traditions and Culture.
A visit to the Folk Art Museum Tositsa Mansion is a must. The three-level building, formerly a mansion belonging to the family of Tositsas, was restored in 1954 and offers a detailed presentation of the daily life in Metsovo over the centuries. A rich collection of items, woven fabrics, bridal jewelry, costumes, rare books, are showcased in their physical space in the rooms, the stables, the storerooms and the vast reception halls. Moreover, you will be pleasantly surprised by the experiential guided tour, and you will feel that its landlord has opened its doors to welcome you in.(metsovomuseum.gr) Next, the Averoff Art Gallery, where you can admire the most important Greek painters of the 19th and 20th centuries. The start of Neohellenic Art, Genre painting, Mature Urban Portraiture, Early Impressionistic Tendencies, Parallel Themes and Forms of Expression, Plein Air Painting, Reverberations of Impressionism, the Onset of Modernism in Greece, Between the Wars and After the War, Abstraction, the 60's Generation and the 80's Generation, New Art Forms, Printmaking and Sculpture. (averoffmuseum.gr)
Some suggestions about Byzantine churches and monasteries: Certainly, the Church of Agia Paraskevi, the patroness of Vlachs in the center of the small town and the monastery of Agios Nikolaos, southwest of Metsovo, with rare byzantine icons. Also, the Monastery Koimisis Theotokou(1754), in a short distance from Metsovo, at the intersection of the two tributaries of Arachthos. Going throughout the courtyard with the various buildings around and enter through the low entrance of the church, a second miniature door leads to the interior. In the light of candles, you will see the wood-carved icon screen, a rare true work of art.
Nature and mountain trails.
The second thing you need to explore in the region of Metsovo, is the awesome, unparalleled beauty of nature. The mountainous terrain consists of strong elevations, while many species of the flora and fauna find refuge in the dense forests.
We suggest visit the hospitable village of Milia or "Meru" in Vlach, within half an hour driving northeast. In principle, you can discover some traditional folk art and wood workshops, but especially, from here you can find access to the northern Pindos National Park, the famous “Valia Calda”, Vikos-Aoos and their in-between geographical region. A stunning natural landscape, impressive forested mountain ranges, gorges and amazing trails in a truly unspoiled paradise that will heighten your senses. (pindosnationalpark.gr) An interesting alternative access to the Park exists in the opposite direction, the Chrysovitsa village, with the homonymous and famous byzantine monastery of Panagia, near Mount Lakmos with the dozens of mapped walking paths.
The National Park includes the second-highest mountain in Greece, the Smolikas (2.637 m), and the mountain ranges of Tymfi, Lygkos, Vasilitsa, Mitsikeli and others. Within the protected area lie the sources of the rivers of Voidomatis, Aoos and Venetikos and the tributaries of Arachthos. The most important ravines are the Vikos Gorge and the Aoos Canyon and the most significant path is the “Ursa Trail”, meaning the the bear's path. The route goes through some of the historical pathways and monuments of exceptional aesthetic and natural value in the region. The first part of Ursa Trail lies east of Arachthos river in the region of Anilio, while the second part extends west of Arachthos in the area of Metsovo. (metsovorace.gr)
Local gastronomy and delicacies.
In Metsovo, the cheese is produced in a wide range of styles, flavors, textures and forms, such as the famous smoked Metsovone(90% from cow's milk), the semi-hard Metsovela, the Graviera of Metsovo (from sheep's milk), the hard and matured Parmezana style cheese(named Grana), and the Chevre style goat cheese with pepper. You can taste and shop in stores of Metsovo as well as from the Tositsa cheese factory, if you are lucky since it is only open one day a week. Discovering places that offers delicacies, we should mention the Chiba traditional oven, where all the local goodies lined up on the large marble countertop, such as delicious local snacks, fragrant bread with olive oil, cheese pies, mushroom pies.
Directly across the Metsovo town, you can visit the village Anilio to taste the grilled lamb chops in the local tavernas. Around there, is very likely to encounter large herds of sheep and cattle. Do not forget to buy local products, cheese, honey, walnuts, mountain tea and oregano. Keep in mind that the village offers some beautiful accommodation options for tourists such as hotels, traditional pensions, and guest houses.
At last wine lovers, it's time for a wine tour and wine tasting.
Discovering vines and wines in Metsovo, we will undoubtedly find ourselves in the vineyards and the legendary winery of Katogi Averoff. The vineyards are among the most picturesque and mountainous in Greece, mainly found on sunny, steeply inclined slopes.
Here, was first planted in Greece the grape Cabernet Sauvignon, and still today it is the dominant variety. Do not miss to start your tour with this stunning vineyard, indeed, a unique landscape. Back to the Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery, a unique experience awaits you. An extraordinary resort combining superior wines, local gastronomy and warm, traditional hospitality.
You will be fascinated with the architectural originality of the building, the corridors with glass floor and the hundreds of French oak ageing barrels, while in the atmospheric wine bar you can have the introductory wine tasting. The evening will be left to enjoy a dream match your palate, with exquisite wines from the estate and delicious local cheeses. We suggest you enjoy the red wines Rossiu di Munte Giniets(Cabernet Sauvignon), Rossiu di Munte Vlahiko(a rare indigenous varietal) and Averoff Xinomavro(the noble grape of northern Greece), combined with metsovone, graviera and goat cheese. Cheers!
In closing, I would like to mention that you may also have the chance to be there in one of the cultural events that are organized by the locals:
During the first weekend of June, the "Gathering of the Vlachs" events, organized by the Panhellenic Union of Vlach Cultural Associations.
On July 20, the "Feast of the Prophet Elias" is celebrated by residents and visitors of Metsovo with songs and dances.
On July 26, in honor of Agia Paraskevi, the procession of the holy image followed by women, dressed in traditional Metsovian costumes, dance in the courtyard of the church with songs in the Vlach dialect.
On August 15, the local municipality organizes dances with folk songs at the central square of Metsovo, with free participation for residents and visitors.
Well done! How not to love this place, the Jewel of Epirus, which carry the local gastronomy and culture and travel us through time. Always, with a glass of fine wine...
Warm regards travellers and wine lovers! Stay tuned!