THE MAN

Evangelos Averoff-Tossizza
(1908-1990)


Evangelos Averoff-Tossizza, inspirer and the driving force of Metsovo's today economic vigour, was a politician, intellectual and literary man, an eminent figure in the affairs of modern Greece.


After studying law and economics, Averoff became involved in public issues and during the first years of his career, served his country as Prefect Member of Parliament, Deputy Minister, and Minister of Supply, Economics and Agriculture. From 1956 until 1963 he held the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, representing his country in the critical national issues of that period. Between 1967 and 1973 he strove with legal and illegal means for the overthrow of the military dictatorship and was imprisoned for his activities. After the fall of the junta, he was appointed Minister in the sensitive Ministry of Defense (1974-1981) where, within a few years, he achieved the difficult task of reorganizing and purging the Armed Forces. Later he served as Vice - President of the Government, Leader of the Opposition, and in 1984 he was appointed Honorary Chairman of the New Democratic Party, having for almost half a century played a leading part in the political life of Greece.

A man of many talents and diverse interests, Averoff engaged in wide ranging social activities and left a rich literary work. He has written novels, short stories, plays, essays, and historical analyses. His works have been translated into many languages and have received international acclaim and awards such as the Gold Medal of the French Academy (1974), the Literary Award Acropolis (1978) a.o.

Particularly close were the ties which bound him to nature, to the earth and to the village of his origin, Metsovo.

Through his initiative, many economic and social activities of public benefit came into being and flourished, contributing to the development of Metsovo and its neighboring countries. As the driving force of the Baron Michael Tossizza Foundation, Averoff supervised the construction of over 100 schools in the prefecture of Ioannina, and founded a Students’ Hall of Residence in Athens where students from the district of Epirus stay free of charge.

In Metsovo he founded the Tossizza Museum, the ski centre, a model cheese-making industry, a wood working factory, and a centre for the sale of folk art and handicrafts.
His goal was to encourage all activities which would help to preserve the traditions and the economic vigour of the community.

Towards the end of his life he created the Evangelos Averoff-Tossizza Foundation which he endowed with his significant collection of Greek paintings of the 19th and 20th century. The collection is housed in the modern three-storey building of the Averoff Art Gallery, which was built in accordance with the traditional style of the area, since the preservation of the traditional architecture was one of the aims permeating all of the works implemented in Metsovo.

KATOGI wine was the only one of Averoff’s activities in Metsovo which did not operate on a non-profit basis but had the form of an enterprise. However, the roots of the enterprise lay in a magnificent vision which occupied Averoff no less than his other creations. And indeed, at the age of eighty, he left the world while still writing The Vineyard of the Humble Saint, a literary account of his vision and of the creation of the KATOGI wine.