Metsovo, a quaint village in Greece located in the Pindos Mountains has a fascinating history and is a year-round haven for activity! I have had the privilege of visiting twice and both times were an absolute pleasure! The first time I visited Metsovo was in 2019 with my nephew from Thessaloniki- that day brought me to tears, lunch with my nephew, my Dad’s former home- what more can a girl ask for! I planned to be in Greece for a few months and stay with family in Trikala.
On the way to Trikala, we visited my Dad’s village of Malakasi (the first time I had ever been there and was able to go into the house where he was born as it is still in the family.) and after Malakasi, we went to Metsovo for lunch at a restaurant that has been visited by my family for years! Leaving with a more than full belly, I felt like I had been fed by the Gods! One of the things I find interesting about the village is the year-round activity. Are you a snow skier, a hiker, a history buff, or a gastronomy enthusiast? Then Metsovo should be on your list of off-the-beaten-path destinations!
Located in the region of Epirus, Metsovo is about a 5-hour drive from Athens and Thessaloniki about 2 1/2 hours. With narrow, curvy roads through the Pindos Mountains and frequently coming across sheep or cows being herded across the road, from first-hand experience, I will warn you, that it’s not an easy drive but I can guarantee an adventure in authentic rural Greece. But despite the road hazards that National Road 6 has in store for you, it is a can’t-miss destination!
A BRIEF HISTORY:
As with most towns and villages in Greece, Metsovo has seen its share of invasions and raiders. During the 15th century, Metsovo came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. During the latter part of the Ottoman rule, Albanian raiders even tried their hand at taking over the village and were ultimately defeated.
In 1912, Cretan soldiers along with guerilla fighters rose up and took their village back and it has remained under Greek control since. The final battle was on 31 October 1912 and lasted, according to historians over at 4 pm when the Ottomans raised a white flag signifying surrender and defeat! Interestingly enough, the freedom fighters only had 205 soldiers and two canons. These soldiers are referred to as eleftherías.
Up until the beginning of the 20th century, the people of Metsovo were divided into three social-economic classes; the Árhontzi (who were considered the wealthiest), the Vinitsi (middle and lower-class persons who were mostly farmers and very united socially, only marrying within their “class”) and finally the Álgi(traveling sheepherders that adhered to strict rules set forth by the “patriarch”.
THE METSOVO OF TODAY:
As I mentioned above, arriving in Metsovo feels like you have arrived in an alpine village. It is quite hilly so if you are seeing the village on foot, please take this into account. The village of Metsovo is quite charming with its red-tiled roofs, people dressed in traditional costume, art, and culture, and many mansions to tour. The culture of the cuisine locally made wines, and cheeses will captivate you. While there, be sure to buy a goat wool rug, as these are a specialty of the village. Metsovo is also known for its ancient art of carving wood, specifically the Walachian shepherd’s sticks, making for an interesting and practical souvenir to remember your time spent in this quaint village.
As with most European towns, the center of activity centers around the city center. There you will find fabulous restaurants, shops featuring locally crafted items, and stone fountains. The flowing potable water is from the surrounding Pindos Mountains. Because the village is surrounded by lush mountains, hiking, mountain biking, off-road jeep adventures, kayaking, rafting, and climbing are activities all worth trying. If that kind of activity isn’t your cup of tea, then immerse yourself in the mansion tours such as the Tositsa mansion, which is now home to the Folk Art Museum, or a church tour of Agia Paraskevi built in the 15th century featuring an intricately wood-carved temple and ancient holy heirlooms. If you love wine, as I do, then don’t miss Averoff Winery Katogi. The Katogi wines produced here are famous all over Greece!
Many people decide to visit Metsovo in the winter months for skiing. There are three ski lifts right outside the village. All have the reputation of being awesome and have slopes and trails set up for all skill levels. Click HERE for more detailed info on the ski lifts, resorts, and snow forecasts.
Whatever time of year your travel schedule permits, I promise, Metsovo will not disappoint! The last time I visited was in June of 2021. We left Meteora and drove to Metsovo for lunch, shopping, and a stroll through the village. The drive was a bit over an hour, about 60 kilometers. Yes, we did encounter cows being herded across the road.
Until next time, friends, remember: “To Travel is to Live!”