METIS (Multi Element Telescope for Imaging and Spectroscopy investigation), selected to fly aboard the Solar Orbiter ESA/NASA mission, is conceived to perform imaging (in visible, UV and EUV) and spectroscopy (in EUV) of the solar corona, by means of an integrated instrument suite located on a single optical bench and sharing the same aperture on the satellite heat shield. As every coronagraph, METIS is highly demanding in terms of stray light suppression. Coronagraphs history teaches that a particular attention must be dedicated to the occulter optimization. The METIS occulting system is of particular interest due to its innovative concept. In order to meet the strict thermal requirements of Solar Orbiter, METIS optical design has been optimized by moving the entrance pupil at the level of the external occulter on the S/C thermal shield, thus reducing the size of the external aperture. The scheme is based on an inverted external-occulter (IEO). The IEO consists of a circular aperture on the Solar Orbiter thermal shield. A spherical mirror rejects back the disk-light through the IEO. A breadboard of the occulting assembly (BOA) has been manufactured in order to perform stray light tests in front of two solar simulators (in Marseille, France and in Torino, Italy). A first measurement campaign has been carried on at the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille. In this paper we describe the BOA design, the laboratory set-up and the preliminary results.