The red onion from Tropea 2

The red onion of Tropea (basic notions 2) 

Tropea is in the basal part of an extensive promontory detached from the Calabrian Apennines and which protrudes into the sea: the promontory of Capo Vaticano or even Monte Poro plateau (upland). It "protrudes" into the sea between the Gulf of Sant'Eufemia and the Gulf of Gioia Tauro. The coastal soil is sandy or tending to be sandy and drains water well. It is right here that this ecotype of onion has found its ideal habitat  

Geologists consider it a separate geographical unit, independent from the rest of Calabria: the lateral faults separate it from the mainland and make it almost an island, with particular microclimate characteristics.

The top part of this promontory is the Monte Poro plateau. Its surface which is made up of dark, fine-textured volcanic soil rests on a granite rock base. This means that it is always humid and even in summer it is covered with particularly green vegetation. A unique cheese is produced from sheep of the Valle del Belice breed.


  When we talk about Red Onion of Tropea, according to the shape (and the precocity of bulbification deriving from the influence of the photoperiod), we must distinguish 3 native ecotypes: "flat round" or early, "half bell" or medium early; "elongated" or late. There are three types of products: spring onion, onion for fresh consumption and onion for storage  

The organoleptic characteristics of the Tropea red onion are due to genetics, but also to the perfect place of cultivation which is the promontory of Capo Vaticano. Basically the coastal (and hilly) stretch that goes from Pizzo to Nicotera.

The cultivation of the Tropea red onion can take place in 3 different ways: with the planting of the bulbs, with direct sowing in the open field and with the transplantation of bare root seedlings. The bulbs are planted at the end of August to have production already at the end of October. Direct sowing takes place in early September to have the start of production during the Christmas period. The transplanting of the seedlings takes place at the beginning of October with production from January to March. Care must be taken, however, not to confuse the term production with harvesting: by production we mean the development, the growth of the vegetable which is harvested when it has reached the correct stage of ripeness.

The spring onion is the onion harvested still immature (with the bulb not yet formed) together with the whole plant. It has a more delicate taste which makes it more similar to leeks from a gastronomic point of view. The Tropea red onion is harvested between March and April for the spring onion, between April and May for the “Flat round”, between May and June for the “Half bell” and between June and July for the “Elongated”.