Cheese Lover? You Must Visit Metsovo on Pindos Mountains.
In the heart of the Pindos mountain range, 40 minutes away from Ioannina and at an altitude of 1200 meters, is Metsovo, a traditional settlement and a very attractive travel destination for all seasons.
In Metsovo, in addition to the many local products you will find, such as the excellent wines of “Katogi Averoff”, and the local meats that you will try in the traditional restaurants of the area, you will also find a paradise of local cheeses, as the animal husbandry is the main axis of the economy of Metsovo from the beginning of the 18th century.
At that time, the two main occupations of the families living in Metsovo were the processing of wool by animals and cheese-making. The cheese merchants of Metsovo sent the younger ones to Italy and especially to Sardinia, to learn the secrets of cheese-making, with the result that after so many years Metsovo became known to the whole world for its delicious cheeses. The most famous cheese of that time, in Metsovo, was kashkaval, which was also exported to Italy.
After the liberation of Metsovo by the Ottomans in 1912, the city of Metsovo began to decline as trade moved to larger urban centers such as Ioannina. However, the love of the locals for their “art” did not fade and in 1948 Baron Michael Tossizzas founded the homonymous Tossizza Foundation with the aim of taking initiatives to preserve the cultural and popular elements of the region, which extended to the development of agriculture and animal husbandry.
The Tossizza Foundation cheese factory has been operating since 1955, initially as a practical cheese school. Young residents of Metsovo, from families of cattle breeders, went to Italy for cheese studies, at the expense of the Tossizza Foundation and returning they combined the way of making some Italian cheeses with the corresponding Greek one. Thus was born “Metsovone”, which for 60 years is made with the method “Pasta Filata”, like mozzarella, and the method of the Italian Provolone.
Metsovone cheese is made from non-pasteurized cow’s milk, or a mixture of cow’s and goat’s milk (goat’s milk not more than 10%), which comes from animals of the surrounding mountain villages of Pindos. Smoking is done in a natural way, by burning aromatic herbs, vines and grasses for 12 days.
The Foundation’s cheese factory also produces, in limited quantities, other incredible cheeses such as Metsovella, Graviera
of Metsovo (made with the Swiss method) and the goat cheese type chèvre with thick pepper that produced only in spring.
As the Foundation places more emphasis on learning and cheese-making than entrepreneurship, it has enabled its cheesemakers to experiment, without stressing the cost of their experiments. So they managed to produce amazing parmesan (it takes 500 kilos of milk to make a wheel of 25 kilos of parmesan) which they named Rezzana Tosizza and it matures for two years. The mass production of Rezzana Tossizza has started in the summer of 2020 and in two years it will be available for you to enjoy in the area of Metsovo.
In the taverns of Metsovo and the nearby villages, you will enjoy amazing meats, excellent wine, but also the local cheeses, whose taste will surely remind you of Metsovo and the mountains of Pindos.