History mentions that in the Second Millennium BC a pastoral group of people who spoke Greek lived in this section of Epirus. More specifically, during the 4th century BC the Aithikes and perhaps the Tymphaioi lived in the region of Metsovo. The manners and customs of the inhabitants of the Metsovo region do not differ from those of Epirus, while many peculiarities obviously, give them an affinity with practices deriving from as far back as Homeric times.

No prehistoric remains have been located in this region, except some Greek and Roman installations, such as those at Koutsoufliani, the "Imperatori" at Politsias and at Votonosi. And even though the shepherds-inhabitants of this region did not formerly have permanent settlements until two or three centuries ago, it is well accepted by most historians, that the first main passage, from the western to the eastern Pindus mountains started here centuries ago. A passage of exceptional strategic and commercial importance.

Engraving from the 18th century
Thus Metsovo, because of its position as a central juncture in the interior system of communications and as an absolutely necessary stopping point for taking on supplies and the control of the only pass through the Pindus mountains, must be one of the oldest settlements in the region. Most probably it was the first set up after the destruction of the Roman settlement, "Imperatori". The inhabitants formed a unique society which has carried over to our times, ancient experiences from life on the peaks of Pindus.

This is because the conservative character of the mountain dwellers and their unquestioned political autonomy made the suppression of their privileged origins and their historical experiences as a way of life, impossible and disadvantageous.

The Roman Empire took the form of "armed association" because it was primarily interested in the protection and fortification of the region, which for the Romans was above all an important not to say crucial pass from the southern shores of Epirus to Thessaly and Macedonia. This "symbiosis" could not overthrow the "world" of a primitive, untamed, unique and closed society while it was natural to cultivate bilingualism for practical purposes that is, for the needs of daily communication and co-operation with the Roman administration. The inhabitants are still bilingual today. They speak Greek and Vlach, which is a Latinate language with quite a number of ancient Greek terms, but without its own written form.

"The pass over Zygos"
Louis Dupre
The place name "Metsovo" first appeared in late Byzantine times, in the "Chronikon ton Ioanninon" where it was noted that in 1380 the Serbian Bishop of Ioannina, Thomas, "...maltreated the esteemed Isaiah, the abbot of Metsovo...". Many opinions exist concerning the origin of its name. Some claim that the name of the village has Slav origins (mets+ovo = bear village) and other believe it is derived from the Greek (Meso-Vouni= mid - mountain, shortened to Mesovo and hence Metsovo) because of its location as a passageway being right in the middle of the region.

It is worth noting that the inhabitants of Metsovo, throughout its history, have nearly always lived in a state of autonomy. More particularly, from the 10th century to the beginning of the 19th century, Metsovo constituted a privileged region, a condition successively conferred on it by Constantine Porphyrogennitus in the 10th century, Andronicus III in the 14th century, Murat II in 1430 and the Sublime Porte in 1695.
These privileges, which were granted so that the inhabitants of the region and most of all Metsovo would be co-operative and friendly with the central authority in the protection and servicing of the vital mountain passage of Zygos, were abolished by Ali Pasha in 1795. This was because Ali Pasha, who had his seat in nearby Ioannina, had acquired great power and sought complete and absolute domination of the region.

Portrait of George Averoff, 1888
National benefactor
So under these conditions, exemplified in particular by the turkish privileges, which contained economic incentives, political freedoms and administrative and ecclesiastical autonomy, it was natural that Metsovo, as the main settlement in the region - a centre, station, market and town - would develop more intensively. In 1659 there was a great influx of Christians and noteworthy schools operated there where "the language of commerce was also taught". In 1700 a self-supporting Greek school was established, staffed by the foremost scholars and teachers of the time. In 1719 a French warehouse was set up for the storing of weaving and silver products destined for export. In 1735 Metsovo had 347 families -about 2,500 inhabitants- and in 1750 there were many noteworthy commercial families operating in the large cities of Europe.
All this wealth would be translated into bequests and donations by benefactors to their special homeland of Metsovo and after the revolution of 1821, to the newly-formed Greek state. Even today, Metsovo's fame in Greece is largely due to its national benefactors ( Averoff, Stournara, Tossizza, Floka and others).

Metsovo suffered considerable destruction on March 27, 1854 from the Ottoman troops of Abdi Pasha during the uprising of the Metsovians under the chieftain Grivas. In spite of all the destruction, with the help of bequests by prominent Metsovite benefactors living abroad, Metsovo began a new period of growth whose rhythms were accelerated by its liberation from the Ottoman yoke on October 31, 1912.

The establishment of the Baron Michael Tosssizza Foundation in 1948 by the baron himself, with the encouragement and inspiration of Evangelos Averoff - Tossizza, was the decisive event for the economic and cultural development of today's Metsovo. Its residents, making good use of the above privileges, of local traditions and of natural resources turned this community "built of wood and stone" into a noteworthy location both for the local community and for all visitors. Today, Metsovo, is one of the most famed traditional settlements in Greece. Its fame is largely due to the beauty of the village, to its traditional way of life, to the quality and delicacy of its products and its successful development.