Metsovo, the Jewel of Epirus
This lively mountain town combines colorful traditions, breathtaking nature and top-class wine tourism
Metsovo, a mountain village in the Pindos area, northwestern Greece is a model of development with robust wine and culture-based tourism. Even though the the year’s average temperature does not exceed 10° C, this charming destination remains lively all year round thanks to the devotion of its people and the generosity of benefactors, who have helped maintain the local culture and capitalize on the natural beauty.
The past struggles of daily life in this mountain village have made their way into local stories, songs, dances and crafts, and can be sensed today. The main square still echoes Metsovo’s age-old history. There, elderly men sit chatting in Vlach, a language with Balkan roots that is still understood by the young, but used less and less these days. The language is a relic of this small village’s long history.
Other traditions are still just about alive in Metsovo. The wall of a store run by Evaggelos Balabekos, a long-serving tailor of traditional garments, are adorned with a number of unique pieces that highlight the region’s heritage, including a stunning gold embroidered vest – a real museum piece. This tailoring tradition is now facing extinction in Metsovo as fewer young people are willing to commit themselves to unpaid apprenticeships, as was the rule during the tailor’s heyday. “This art is learnt between the ages of 12 and 16. Any time after that is too late. I learnt my trade practicing 10 to 12 hours a day when I was 12 years old, without pay,” Balabekos explained. “These days, everybody wants to be paid from day one.”
Due to its strategic position, Metsovo served as a crucial military corridor during Ottoman times, offering its forces safe passage from Epirus to the regions of Thessaly, Macedonia, Constantinople and vice versa. This strategic position lured Ottoman support, generating early economic growth and social prosperity.
A storage facility for woven fabrics, silverware and gold was developed in the early 18th century, establishing Metsovo as a prominent manufacturing and trading center. Trade flourished and reputable stores were opened at major commercial centers of the period – Venice, Naples, Trieste, Marseille, Vienna, Moscow, Odessa and Constantinople.
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