Prefecture of Ioannina
May 2022 (30th of April-6th of May)
Metsovo is a traditional mountain town in the prefecture of Ioannina at an altitude of 1,160m located between the hills of the largest mountain range in Greece, Pindos. I had many years to visit it and I am excited that it holds the cultural heritage of a traditional village settlement. You can see many stores around you which are selling shepherd’s crooks, sheepskins as mats for the fireplace and handmade wooden decorations.
Even though I went for work with my regular day-job, I did manage to find time to see the city. And if you are enjoying nice cheese, nice wine, painting and skiing, you should visit it too.!!!
Location & room
What could I say about Archontiko Metsovou Luxury Boutique Hotel? From the moment we arrived until the moment we left everything were great. Helpful Dimitra and friendly George know what Greek filoxenia (=hospitality) is all about and they are making it a reality for their customers. With a smile always, they were advising us on how we can make the most of our day (what to see, where we will eat etc.).
Hotel is located in a good location, since it is within walking distance to the square, Averoff gallery with more than 250paintings, Baron Tositsa’s folklore museum (Tossizza Mansion), Averofeios Garden and close to all taverns and shops. Even to the Averoff winery, you can go by feet.
The room was spacious with the best view that we could have. The lively but calm and quiet mountain. Every morning you could open your door to the balcony. Firstly, I dare you to smell the refreshing oxygen. And then…you will hear the bells from the grazing sheep. Open your eyes and as if by magic you will see the fog that previously covered the whole mountain wafting to disappear behind the hill. This landscape is enchanting. I lo-lo-loooved the traditional cozy decoration of the room with all this wood and the colorful warm carpets. Light the fireplace and stare at the view outside from the comfortable bed. You will be dazzle and you will be led mentally to calm.
Stuff, breakfast & facilities
The personnel were really polite and helpful. Every day, the cleaning ladies were cleaning the room’s jacuzzi, changing towels, putting new shower gels-shampoos and refuel the fireplace with more logs.
Above all, breakfast was so deliciously incredible. The buffet has something new every day to taste and everything was rich and homemade either inside the hotel or from local producers. I enjoyed the local butter and cheese and…..the homemade berries marmalade was addicted to me. You can choose hot eggs, pancakes, bacon-sausages or cold cake-doughnuts-cookies and much more, that I cannot recall on my mind right now. Certainly, you will enjoy it with the mountain view in front of you.
Most important, the hotel provides its own underground private parking, since the municipal parking has not enough free spot and parking normally is prohibited on the main streets.
Everything was spotless. I will definitely be back to enjoy the spa facilities, massage, sauna and pool. I felt sorry I didn’t find the time now.
Do not forget to book a hotel in Metsovo with its own parking lot.
Museum of Hydrokinesis
At the mountains around the village, you can see remains of the past. Such a remnant is also the museum of Hydrokinesis. Τhe sun-dried velentza (handmade on a loom bedding made of sheep wool) stretches will show you the way to the traditional facilities of the outdoor Museum of Hydrokinesis to see the water mill, the flour mill or the moving mechanism of a gunpowder mill which was used during the Revolution of 1821.
Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Metsovo
With only 4 monks and one operator at this monastery, you can hear your own thoughts. With the devoutness, contemplation and prayers ‘hanging in the air’, you will calm yourself. This quiet atmosphere can give someone the sense of the beyond. Maybe you even reach the satori state.
We enjoyed so much our visit, since the frescoes of the saints are all unique. We admired especially the extremely rare image of our Virgin Mary breastfeeding the small Jesus Christ. Moreover, this historic temple is so well preserved and polite Mr.Dimitris know its history. He told us all about the monastery’s foundation during the Byzantine era, as in the 14th c.. The painter Efstathiou made some of the wall paintings during the renovation of 18th c.. However, you can separate them with your eye with the earlier of 17th c.. Mr. Dimitris told us also how it has been renovated around 1700. Furthermore, its current form is due to the restoration work carried out around 1960, by the ‘Baron’s Michael Tosista Foundation. While the outside chapel is dedicated to the new martyr Agios Nikolaos from Metsovo, who martyred in 1659.
We also enjoyed the tour to the cellar where there was a wooden barrel for wine about 14 tons. Back home we tasted the delicious rubini wine Imperator and oak’s honey that we bought from the monastery.
The view is breathtaking and leaving from the monastery, as you are going down the mountain you will pass 2 crystal clear waterfalls.
Monastery of Theotokos Koimesis
Within walking distance from Metsovo, there is the Monastery of Theotokos Koimesis (Assumption of Mary). The landscape was magnificent all the way and when we reached the monastery it became idyllic. Unfortunately, either the one nun didn’t hear the doorbell to open for us…or -as they said to us later few villagers- she is afraid to open, due to corona virus. Either way, it was worth to see even the scenery.
If you want to try traditional plastos pie with fresh herbs and feta cheese, then you should visit Galaxy tavern. It is located in the middle of the central square under the trees and under the homonymous hotel. I enjoyed the rustic atmosphere with the woven on the walls and the warmth from the lit fireplace. Furthermore, they had the most aromatic tsipouro I’ve ever had called 18grada. Thank God I found their online partner here, to order me some of the 18grada in Athens.
Tip: Do accompany the lamb chops with fresh galotyri cheese.
To Koutouki tou Nikola
Whilst at the koutouki tou Nikola from 1977, you will eat the yummiest xylopites with cheese in the oven. Moreover, the space is modern and stylish and has a snugness from the fireplace.
Tip: Do not forget to try metsovela cheese also and at least one of their delicious traditional pies. I chose spanakopita.
If you like a nice succulent sausage, then Apokentro is your tavern to be. Accompanied with tyrogalo cheese and tsipouro idoniko you will definitely having a best meal. They also had a tasty kontosouvli and lamb chops.
Tip: Do not forget to try their bougiourdi.
Are you craving for ewe kontosouvli? Then Metsovitiko saloni will be your thing. Their gemesta and pork chops are tasty, but the ewe was so-so-soooo drooling. Accompanied with my favorite tsipouro of 18grada was an actual feast from the horn of plenty-abundance Amalthia coming out the Greek myth.
Do you like licking your fingers? Then Niao tavern at Anilio village near Metsovo had the best sheep chops, in my opinion. You do not want anything else. Their taste will grab your palate and you will want more…and more… and even more.
Tip: Be patient, because the tavern is always crowded and you have to wait to be seated and to order.
Do you want something traditional? Do you want something contemporary? Whatever you want to try, do try -at least once- Diethnes’ almond and walnut pie with a twist of a vanilla custard sprinkled with cinnamon.
Metsovo has few coffee places and bars around the central square. I chose Karma café to enjoy an evening oinomelo. Oinomelo is a hot honeyed red wine with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. They nailed it! The decoration is ‘complicated’, since you can see the Italian Comentia del Arte’s Harlequin and a small tuba along with Christmas balls and lights.
Tip: If you cannot stand smoking then do not sit down, because the management of the store allowed other customers to smoke inside with closed doors.
However, Στυλ café is a haunt after Sunday’s church for a hot tea. It gathers people of all ages. It’s noisy and vivid with nice view of the red brick roofs of the village. Moreover, you can see the mountain fog rising to the top as it reveals the houses.
All waiters and waitresses in each tavern and in each coffee place were polite and hospitable.
Inside the village
Folklore museum Tositsa
The Folklore Museum of the Tositsa Foundation (Tositsa Mansion) has been operating since 1955. The museum includes traditional wood-carved furniture, textiles, buckles and garters, embroidery and many gold-embroidered costumes. Furthermore, it has decorative and useful objects like weapons from 1821, coins, agricultural utensils and post-Byzantine icons of the period 1650-18.
I amazed by few exhibits I want to let you know to show you how they used to organize and operate a Metsovo mansion.
-The barger’s skin, which they used as a changing-table for babies.
-The huge crab legs using as a tsipouro glass in order to dazzle their visitors, since up in the mountains only few people had already seen the ocean.
-They key of the pantry. The oldest woman-yiayia of the house was holding the pantry key and it was locked. In that way, they wanted to ensure that winter supplies would not be stolen.
– 300 and 400 year old horse gold-embroidery saddles inside the stables.
– The source of water, which was located inside the lower floor of the house to avoid going outside during the polar winter temperatures.
-Last but not least, I am amazed by the office of Evangelos Averoff with his eye-glasses and his political speech written in cigarettes’ box. You can also see remnants of the bomb sent to him, but in the end it did not explode.
A big thank you to kind Thodoris that he is like a moving encyclopedia regarding the Tositsa mansion and he gave me all this useful information during the tour at the museum. Thank you because he was so patient to answer all my questions willingly and with kindness.
With 5€ you can have a horseback riding around the village’s square with the most beautiful white horse, I’ve ever seen. It’s for adults too, so grab the opportunity to feel the cold breeze in your face while you are striding this horse around.
The Averoff Museum of Neo-Hellenic Art was opened during August 1988. It has the permanent exhibition and many others from time to time. The permanent exhibition has 250 works by the major Greek painters, printmakers and sculptors of the 19th and 20th century, like Fasianos, Egonopoulos, Lytras, Volanakis, Parthenis, Hadjikyriakos-Ghikas, Moralis and many more.
Two of the paintings that we used to ‘meet’ in our Greek books at school, there are also there. These two are: the dude eating his watermelon of 1880 (ο μάγκας που τρώει καρπούζι) from Pantazis Periklis and the burning of the turkish flagship by Kanaris (Η πυρπόληση της τουρκικής ναυαρχίδας από τον Κανάρη) of 1873 by Lytras Nikiforos.
Still life is alternating with colorful landscapes and angelic faces are alternating with sad ones in this museum full of history, that you should not miss.
Of course, for those who seek the unexpected, there is the room with the modern means of expression. Take a look and enjoy.
Do not miss the room with Metsovo’s history unfolding through black n’ white photos.
Katogi Averoff winery
The most mountainous vineyards in Greece, at an altitude of 1100 meters, are in Metsovo. From 1959 the Katogi Averof winery houses more than 1200 oak barrels.
We enjoyed the tour inside the cellars where Mr.Keli Naka (Κέλλυ Νάκα) explained to us the whole process of fermentation. She showed us where the red wines mature and barrels with people’s pictures. Moreover, she showed us the barred-room where the oenologists hold the rare collectible bottles with vintage wines from 1974 onwards. Furthermore, she presented to us Evangelos Averoff’s memorabilia and personal items while she told us about winery’s flashback history. She explained to us the workers’ struggle to protect the grapes from being eaten by the mountain bears and the barrels’ cleaning process.
Also, we learned that Metsovo is a lucky city that enjoys an Averoff wine that does not sell to the rest of the world. This one called Flogero (Φλογερό).
Our visit of the winery, using a variety of audiovisual media along with Mrs.Naka, concludes with a tasting of Katogi Averof wines. She was so kind and willing to explain all the special wines with their different varieties. Overall, it was a great experience within a very informative wine tour that you should not miss it.
Bonus: The winery tour was free of charge.
- Do not forget to eat at their restaurant, where they inform you which wine matches the food you have chosen.
- If you want to do a wine tasting, just make sure that you arrange it in advance.
- Do not forget to purchase their homemade hilopites, trahanas and many marmalades selling at the gift shop.
Α lush garden with wonderful views of the opposite mountains. Τhe calm prevails and you can walk among the blooming flowers that isolate the sounds of the city.
Outside the village
During winter there are organized ski resorts (Karakoli and Politsies) which in combination with the picturesqueness of the landscape are a pole of attraction for many visitors.
The Katara pass will connect your inner self with the nature, but be careful. Your eyes will be amazed by the nature’s scenery that rages, but the road is difficult. Especially in winter. However, if you are a fan of adventure, a walk might be worth it.
Do you love hiking or having a picnic? Then you should follow the 5km trail next to the river Aoos (Αώος ποταμός) with its natural wild beauty. If the weather I fine, you can swim at the crystal-clear waters or having a picnic at the shores admiring this fascinating river’s landscape.
In short, Metsovo is an all-weather destination. You will not be bored, since you can always find something to do according to the season.
Before leaving Metsovo, please do remember to pay a visit at Gnision (Το Γνήσιο) where you could purchase metsovone and metsovela cheese, fresh butter, wine, tsipouro and many more goodies of this area.
Travel tip: useful telephones for Metsovo
- a) Folklore museum’s tel: +30 26560 41084
- b) Municipal Health center’s tel: +30 26560 41111
- c) Police’s tel: +30 26560 41233
- d) Averoff gallery’s tel: + 30 26560 41210
- e) Taxi’s tel: + 30 694 520 0820, +30 265 604 1787, +30 698 043 1158
Make sure you will check few other destinations in Greece here.
Also, you could see many more pictures of Metsovo to my instagram profile or facebook.