The Queen wears Purple

Red Onion of Tropea, IT | ©Tom Palladioi ImagesEver heard of Queen Viola Cipolla of Tropea?


Well, Queen Viola Cipolla of Tropea is a member of an elite, Calabrese family. And that family is known here in the Bel Paese as the Cipolla (onion) — the “Queen of the kitchen.”

She just happens to be the Peninsula’s most prized onion and she’s the color viola (purple).

Purple Onion_41The Queen, along with her king, Garlic — BAM! Thank you Emeril — are the royalty and core ingredients found in la cucina Italiana.

Available year round, the new season of Queen Viola is seeded under the cool air of the fall in the fields around Golfo Vaticano (Vatican Golf), near the city of Tropea, overlooking the Calabrese stretch of the Tyrrhenian seacoast.

In May-June, Queen Viola is harvested, and June-July she begins to hold court at countless open-air markets and the most popular supermarket chains throughout Italy and beyond.

Purple Onion_22Unique among onions, in 2008 the European Union registered the regal Cipolla Rossa di Tropea (Red Onion of Tropea) under its Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) mark.

As a devoted subject, I happen to love Queen Viola. She’s sweet, so much so that they even make marmalade out of her. And best of all, my queen doesn’t leave you running for mouthwash like most of her yellow or white-skinned relatives around the onion realm.

Red onion of Tropea | ©Tom Palladio ImagesI bow to her and pay homage whenever she’s thinly sliced over fresh salads, laid on top of a mouth-watering panino (sandwich), grilled alongside meats and seafood, or skewered onto juicy and colorful spiedini (shish kebabs).

Whether you spend lots of time in the kitchen cooking, or, like me, just carry around a good fork, I dare you to wipe off your cutting board and allow Queen Viola into your kitchen. She’s Calabria’s sweet-tasting, deep-purple royalty and really deserves a try the next time you reach for an onion.


Queen Viola Cipolla of Tropea, that is.

©The Palladian Traveler

TPT Borsalino on Cobblestone | ©Tom Palladio Images

©Tom Palladio Images



  1. Lovely tribute to the Queen of onions. I much prefer the purple onions to the white ones, but I’m not sure if we get ‘Queen Viola Cipolla of Tropea’ onions here. I’ll keep a look out. 🙂

    1. Sylvia – I believe the only way you can enjoy the red onions of Tropea in the U.S. is by buying the seeds and growing them yourself. You might want to check Whole Foods to see if they carry them. There is a California red onion, but it’s not the same. Good crunching!

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