Amphitheatrically etched into the verdant slopes of the Pindos Range of Epirus sits Metsovo, at an altitude of 1,200 meters. It is the picturesque home of a group of people known as Vlachs, who pride themselves as descendants of Roman legionnaires who settled in the Balkans, making this area their home.
The area is blessed with ski slopes, brilliant wine and some of the best cheeses in the world. Idyllic during winter, its cobble-stone streets and winding paths are filled with hidden corners and cozy taverns.
A History of Cheese Secrets
The village of Metsovos is Epirus’ cheese and wine-making capital. A visit to the area would not be complete without sampling the traditional Metsovone cheeses that are modeled on Italy’s provolone. The Katogi Averoff winery, created and owned by one of Metsovo’s most notable families, offers a range of gastronomic tours for true cheese and wine lovers. The family brought the cheeses to Greece after the Averoff-Tositsas family sent young offsprings from cheese-making producers to Italy so that they could bring the secrets of cheese-making to Greece. Not only did they bring home secrets, but they breathed new life into these with semi-hard Metsovone cheese, that is made 80 percent of cow’s milk and the rest of goat’s milk.
Katogi Averoff’s Food and Wine Offerings
A chance for visitors to enjoy the region’s culinary delights is available from December 2-4 with a tour, titled “The Food and Wine Treasures of Metsovo,” at the historic Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery, member of Aria Hotels, that combines culture and function. The program, a collaboration with Trip2Taste, is an all-inclusive extravaganza that includes visits, culinary treats interspersed with cultural visits to the Metsovo Folk Art Museum and the E. Averoff Gallery.
The hotel is ideal for wine-lovers as it offers exceptional labels coupled with Metsovone, graviera and Vlachotyri goat cheese. These famous local Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) cheeses of the tossizza Foundation will be accompanied by home-made chutneys, Chef Stories, and selected wines from Katogi Averoff’s collection. Dinner of local recipes will be exquisitely matched with different labels.
Special Tip: Continue your trip to taste by visiting the “Map of Flavours,” in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece’s largest tasting for top quality wines! For more info, please click here.
The entire tour is at 120 euros per person (includes food-wine tour, cultural activities and accommodation) For information and reservations, contact [email protected], Τel.: +30 26560 42505, Mob.: +30 6944 929232
Some come for the ski
Metsovo has three small ski resorts to attract skiers from the wider region of Epirus. There are two slopes of medium difficulty, one ski lift and a chalet at the Karakoli area, whereas the Anilio ski resort at Zygos has five slopes, and one for children. The third, Politsies, offers five slopes, a chalet and lessons.
Nature lovers will enjoy hiking or mountain-bike riding through the hills, with plenty of stunning sites such as the artificial Asos Springs lake or Katara Pass, named “curse” due to the fact that it is one of the highest and hard-to-pass areas in Greece. Also, the Garden of Averoff contains Pindos’ entire nature and is really close to the Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery.
Those who want culture should visit the Averoff Museum, Baron Michael Tossizza Foundation Cheese Factory, Folk Art Museum and Agios Nikolaos Monastery. In May, there are two races such as the 40k “Ursa Trail” and the 20k “The Tracks of the Bear” (www.metsovorace.gr)