Metsovo has always been that one place we longed to visit. Distant yet, homelike. Cold yet, intimate. After all, escaping to a small traditional, mountain village has always seemed idyllic.
We embarked on our 3-day getaway in mid-December. Christmas was near, a short getaway seemed just perfect and we hoped to see some snow that we missed in the city.
The plan was to set off as early as possible so we could spend as much time as we could in the village. Some stops here and there are, of course, necessary, especially if you want to capture the tiny mountain towns and villages on the sides of the road as you’re driving.
We had heard a lot about Metsovo; mostly about its tradition in winemaking, its gastronomy and its benefactor, Evagelos Averoff-Tositsas and that’s what we were here to discover. A food and wine tour in Metsovo? Yes, indeed.
We were now passing by stone and wood houses, shops and restaurants and the cool mountain air was flavored by the smoke of the dozen grill houses on the main wide road that goes right to the large square.
The scenery was stunning, although no snow. We had decided; that was a great time to be alive.
There was no question as to where we were staying. After all, there is no better place to fully indulge in the Metsovian essence and tradition than Katogi Averoff estate.
A hotel and a winery, Katogi is a pioneering example of wine tourism in Greece. Walking in the lobby, you get that lovely deep smell of wood and sweet warmth that comes from the lit fireplace under the arbor.
For now, all we wanted to do was leave our bags and start exploring. Of course we were starving but we decided to first pay a visit to the Averoff Gallery, located near the main square.
This is a true treasure trove of modern Greek art, housing Averoff’s private collection which he accumulated with the aim of founding a Museum and is considered to be one of the most complete and important art collections of this period.
A stop at Sto Koutouki tou Nikola for lunch after our visit, was necessary. We were exhausted and starved. We devoured the traditional wood-oven baked pies and the delicious kokoretsi. If you visit, make sure you try the famous Metsovone cheese, the meats and the different Katogi Averoff wines.
We were so full that we could hardly walk back to the hotel but since it was on our way, a visit to the Averoff Garden was the obvious thing to do. There is no better place to take a break and observe life.
In the beautiful wooded park you can actually encounter endemic tree species of Mt. Pindos. There’s not much you can do here. Just sit on a bench behind the chapel and breathe in the mountainous fresh air.
Back to the hotel, the smell of wood and the warmth from the always lit fireplace was still there.
The room was extra clean and super spacious and the view to the winery was pretty awesome. As we were told later, the rooms are divided into red and white, similarly to the estate’s wines, with a pure rustic character, and since it is all about the little things we just have to talk about the hotel’s amenities.
I mean, we were actually pretty excited to find out that all of the hotel’s amenities are wine-based and produced from vine and grape extracts from French vineyards. Who pays that much attention to detail? The people at Katogi certainly do.
Everything at the hotel was perfect. The huge traditional buffet breakfast, the people, the wines, the environment.
Later at night, you could see the guests chit-chatting quietly around the tables in the hotel’s bar, devouring a book, or working on their laptops as they enjoyed a glass of Katogi wine as we did too. It could literally not get much better than that.
It actually did when we visited Katogi’s restaurant. We had heard about it but even if we hadn’t, we simply couldn’t resist the tantalizing smell of food that wafted into the bar from the hotel’s restaurant.
If you’re after an exquisite culinary experience based on Metsovo’s local cuisine using mostly locally sourced ingredients, then this is your place.
Day two was dedicated to our leisure, wandering around the main square shopping for local handicrafts, but we did visit Metsovo’s Folk Art Museum since everyone was talking about it.
Housed in a restored 17th century manor, that belonged to Georgios Averoff-Tositsas, a great Epirus merchant’s whose wealth helped form the Greek nation, a visit to the Museum is a travel back in time and it will feel like it even after you exit its doors.
Unfortunately, a blog post does not do justice to how wonderful Metsovo is, or how much we loved it. There is certainly something different about the place; maybe it is the people and their kindness or the simplicity of the life they live.
Of course, we visited the winery (you can read more about it here). Skipping it is, in fact, almost like skipping Louvre in Paris. Alexandros Ioannou, grandson of Evagelos Averoff-Tositsas and Katogi’s CEO, was happy to give us a tour and we were happy to take the opportunity.
Here, you can taste the estate’s wines, learn everything about their making procedure and buy as many as you want to bring back home. Our experience can only be summed up in one word: fascinating.
Yes, three days are often enough; enough to get inspired and recharge. Although nostalgia had already hit us quite early in the way, the picture we wanted to keep was clear: happy people in a happy place, toasting with a glass of wine.
Until next time!
*Check for updates to learn more about our visit to the Averoff Gallery & Metsovo’s Folk Art Museum.