THE BARON MICHAEL TOSSIZZA FOUNDATION was founded in 1947 with the aim of maintaining Metsovo’s cultural heritage and sustaining its economic growth.

In the years between 1950 and 1960, the Foundation implemented a wide range of projects, which created new jobs for the residents and led to what is now known as “Metsovo’s modern miracle”: Over 100 schools were built throughout the prefecture, traditional buildings, churches and monasteries were restored, fountains and roads were constructed, trees were planted and works were undertaken to protect the village from landslides. The Tositsa Student House was built in Athens, offering free accommodation and meals to students from Epirus. The once deserted manor house of the Tositsa family in Metsovo was restored and opened its doors to the public as the Folk Art Museum of Epirus, featuring invaluable collections. During the same decade, various other projects saw the light of day: A Timber Factory, equipping local producers with modern machinery; A Folk Art Shop and Embroidery School, aiming to revive weaving, woodcarving and other traditional crafts in the area; a model byre with cows and bulls from Switzerland, which gradually led to the improvement of the local breeds; the Tositsa Cheese Factory, which bought milk in subsidised prices from the region’s small livestock farmers, created new types of cheese and educated a new generation of cheese makers.  The Tositsa Hospital, providing free healthcare to the area’s residents, was built almost three decades before the establishment of the country’s national healthy system, and in 1969 one of Greece’s first ski resorts was built in the region.

Today, the Foundation is still actively at work to achieve the same goals, adjusted to Metsovo’s modern needs and conditions. The foundation remains focused on the Tossizza Cheese Factory, the Ski Resort, the Metsovo Folk Art Museum, Aghios Nikolaos Monastery and the Student House in Athens for students from Epirus, as well as on more recent initiatives, such as the Children’s Library, the Museum of Evangelos Averoff- Tossizza. At the same time, it supports and participates in projects of general interest.

HISTORY

The Baron Michael Tossizza Foundation owes its existence and prolific activity to the vision and passion of two men: the baron, Michael Th. Tossizza (1885-1950) and Evangelos Averoff (1908-1990).

Tossizza, a descendant of national benefactor Michael A. Tossizza from Metsovo, was born in Livorno, Italy and lived in Lausanne, Switzerland. Largely alienated from his native land, he did not speak Greek and had never visited the country. He was a well-educated and eccentric man, who had made a great fortune, but had never married, had no children and lived alone.

While looking for funds to sustain the village of his ancestors, Averoff started writing to the baron in 1937; their rich correspondence was to continue for the next ten years, although the two men had never met in person. This long-term and long-distance interaction gradually grew to become a friendship and in 1947 the two men met for the first time in Lausanne.

By that time, Tossizza had already decided to leave the greatest part of his fortune to a non-for-profit foundation bearing his name and aiming at the development of his ancestral land. The memorandum of association of the Foundation was drafted in June 1947. Evangelos Averoff undertook the role of president for the rest of his life and the obligation to adopt the name Tossizza as his second surname. Tossizza died in 1950, never having visited Greece.

In the years that followed, thanks to Tossizza’s fortune and Averoff’s initiative, Metsovo benefited from the public works and projects that would slowly lead to its revival.