Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 15, 2016

Know your onions

Tropea was one of the wonderful towns we visited on our drive through Calabria. Cipolla di Tropea, or Tropea onions are a particular type of red onion which grows in a small area of Calabria named Capo Vaticano, near Tropea.

In 2008 the European Union registered the Protected Designation of Origin mark for red onions grown in this particular area.

We saw them on sale everywhere as we walked through the town. I love these onions and would dearly love to have taken some with us, but I didn’t think they would like to be sitting in our car for a couple of weeks.

Tropea onions

Tropea onions

Tropea onions

When I am in Italy I don’t buy any other type of onion. They are not as strong as regular red onions and are delicious sliced finely in salads. They are also great baked in the oven, by themselves or mixed with other vegetables.

Look out for them, you won’t be disappointed. I am yet to discover them in Australia, but I keep looking.


  1. These onions are delicious! Shops in Tropea also sell local products made from the special onion, such as marinades in oil to top bruschetti and a marmalade mixed with sugar, vinegar and spices to accompany cheese or meat. And the Italians drive away with their car trunks full of the big bunches of them!

    • They really are the best onions I have ever eaten. They are always in my kitchen in Italy.

  2. I’ll look for them in Naples next spring. They look so pretty, aside from being good to eat.

    • They are beautiful. A bunch of these onions looks great on the kitchen bench. You will definitely see them in Naples.

      • Good!

        I can see snow on the mountains from my kitchen window! A bit different than up in the Atherton Tablelands.

  3. They really are a thing of beauty, aren’t they. I’m sure just having a beautiful bunch of these in the kitchen would make any cook’s creative juices flow.

    • I wish I could find them here. Maybe a local farmer might like to try growing them.

  4. We usually use those onions when cooking, but when making Mexican we use white onions. Due Carrare, Italy

    • They are probably a bit subtle for Mexican food, but excellent for lots of other things.

  5. Yes, they are lovely and I always buy them, but I also enjoy another variety, cipollini

    • I have seen those and have used them a few times, they are also very good.

  6. Those things are just gorgeous.

    • I can’t get enough of them when I am in Italy.

  7. We lunched at La Casina at Abetone and we inadvertently ordered roasted balsamic onions for our vegetable side dish. I don’t know if they were the same onions but they were delicious.

    • It is quite likely that they were. Tropea onions are delicious.

  8. Cinsia at the Farmer’s Market in Bagni di Lucca ( Sat & Wed)has them all the time –even the green part is delicious when it is fresh!

    • I have bought them there, I love those markets.

  9. Love these onions and had no idea where Tropea was! Thank you once again for enlightening!

    • I didn’t know their story either…until we went to Tropea.

  10. One of my fav vegetables – these look tasty

    • They are the best onions.

  11. Thanks for the tip. I will ask at our local greengrocer, but the next town to us, Castelleone di Suasa, also specialises in onions, so I may not be lucky! And thank you for the Like.

    • You should find them. I have seen them all over Italy. You won’t be disappointed.

  12. Maybe the onions wouldn’t want to be in the car a few weeks, but I’d sure like to have been on your southern Italy journey with you! Thoroughly enjoying your trip Debra.

    • We had a great time on our drive to Sicily. Calabria was interesting, we loved Scilla, Tropea and Pizzo. I am still going through photos taken in Sicily and there will be more posts soon.
      I am now back in Australia for a couple of months before returning to Bagni di Lucca in September.

  13. I’ve read about these onions and I’ve always wanted to find some. I wonder if there is anywhere in Australia that grows/sells them?

    • I have seen seeds available on line, so someone must grow them.

  14. When in Le Marche I cooked a delicious pasta sauce with Tropea onions, which, as you said they would be, are available in our local greengrocer and supermarket.The supermarket’s own-brand (COAL) polpa is much better than any of the tinned chopped tomatoes you can get in England.

    • When I am in Australia I rarely shop in supermarkets, but I find the produce in Italian supermarkets quite good. I still prefer to support small local businesses where possible.

      • Unfortunately as the witching hour of 1 pm draws near, we still haven’t done all our shopping, and want our lunch, so we give up our good resolutions and head off to COAL.

  15. […] Tropea in Calabria a few years ago, the home of these delicious onions. See more about them…Know your onions and gorgeous Tropea… Tropea, Hercules was […]

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