Alife Onion

Italy

Campania

Vegetables and vegetable preserves

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Alife Onion

The Alife onion takes its name from the municipality of the same name, in the heart of the fertile Alifana plain in the province of Caserta. Its cultivation is ancient. According to local legend it first appeared during Roman occupation; it is said that gladiators would rub their bodies with the onions to tone their muscles. With changes in rulers (in the Medieval age the Alifana plane was invaded by the Lombards) the onion never lost its importance: It was used to pay rent and often given as a gift.
It was considered an effective painkiller for headaches, used to treat snakebites and even to counter hair loss. The history of this onion is centuries old, thriving until the end of the twentieth century. In 1980, around 30 large-scale farmers produced six tons each, all of which were bought by Neapolitan and Roman merchants and then distributed on the national market. Over the last few years however, the tradition has almost been lost: today it is small family farmers who are preserving the Alife onion.
The Alife onion has a slightly flattened bulb and an intense copper-colored skin. Traditionally the seeds are planted in August, replanted between January and March and harvested by hand in July and August. The onions are braided together by their stems into clusters known as ‘nserte. Its taste is sweet and savory, never pungent, and is well renowned for its delicacy. During the international Fiera Campionaria in Milan in 1930, Luigi Sasso, a farmer from Caserta, showcased the onion which was awarded a certificate of merit “for its tastiness”. It can be eaten raw (in salads), added to omelets and used in agrodolce (a traditional Italian sweet and sour sauce).

Season

The onion is harvested in August and then dried to conserve them until the following spring

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The Alife Onion Presidium – together with the Presidia for the Vairano giant lupin bean and the Caiazzana olive – was established as part of a project organized by Slow Food Campania and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in the areas of GAL Alto Casertano (which include the macro areas of Monte Matese, Monte Maggiore and Monte Santa Croce).
These are often marginal areas and are characterized by an incredibly interesting and still-rich agrobiodiversity. Thanks to the project, different products have been identified as at risk of extinction – like the Alife onion – and farmers have been identified that save the seeds and can hand down farming techniques to the younger generation. The objective of the Presidium is to revitalize the production of the onion, so that is can once again be cultivated, appreciated and purchased for its excellence.

Production area
Alife and San Potito Sannitico municipalities, Caserta province

Presidium supported by
Gal Alto Casertano
Fabrizio Concetta
Alife (Ce)
Via Gramsci
tel. +39 380 3909174

Vincenzo Di Meo
Alife (Ce)
Via Vado Largo
tel. +39 329 3483095
dmv1971@libero.it

Modestino Filippelli
Alife (Ce)
Località Porchiera
tel. +39 348 7401904
modesto.filippelli@gmail.com

Fabio Gagliardo
Alife (Ce)
Strada Provinciale 331, 2
tel. +39 320 6444697
cipolla.alifana@gmail.com

Giuseppe Ruzza
Alife (Ce)
Via Morecine
tel. +39 339 4409117
donatella.ceniccola@me.com

Maria Luigia Santagata
Alife (Ce)
Via Provinciale per Piedimonte Matese
tel. +39 320 7466156
r.marifra79@gmail.com

San Cassiano di Rosanna Di Muccio
San Potito Sannitico (Ce)
Via San Cassiano
tel. +39 328 1830268
san.cassiano@hotmail.it

Valle Chiarelle di Patrizia Coluccio
San Potito Sannitico (Ce)
Via Valle Chiarelle, 20
tel. +39 320 9547065
vallechiarelle@virgilio.it


Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Manfredo Fossa
tel. +39 347 3517575
manfredofossa@virgilio.it

Slow Food Presidium Producers’ Coordinator
Antonietta Melillo
tel. +39 320 6444697
cipolla.alifana@gmail.com
The Alife Onion Presidium – together with the Presidia for the Vairano giant lupin bean and the Caiazzana olive – was established as part of a project organized by Slow Food Campania and the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity in the areas of GAL Alto Casertano (which include the macro areas of Monte Matese, Monte Maggiore and Monte Santa Croce).
These are often marginal areas and are characterized by an incredibly interesting and still-rich agrobiodiversity. Thanks to the project, different products have been identified as at risk of extinction – like the Alife onion – and farmers have been identified that save the seeds and can hand down farming techniques to the younger generation. The objective of the Presidium is to revitalize the production of the onion, so that is can once again be cultivated, appreciated and purchased for its excellence.

Production area
Alife and San Potito Sannitico municipalities, Caserta province

Presidium supported by
Gal Alto Casertano
Fabrizio Concetta
Alife (Ce)
Via Gramsci
tel. +39 380 3909174

Vincenzo Di Meo
Alife (Ce)
Via Vado Largo
tel. +39 329 3483095
dmv1971@libero.it

Modestino Filippelli
Alife (Ce)
Località Porchiera
tel. +39 348 7401904
modesto.filippelli@gmail.com

Fabio Gagliardo
Alife (Ce)
Strada Provinciale 331, 2
tel. +39 320 6444697
cipolla.alifana@gmail.com

Giuseppe Ruzza
Alife (Ce)
Via Morecine
tel. +39 339 4409117
donatella.ceniccola@me.com

Maria Luigia Santagata
Alife (Ce)
Via Provinciale per Piedimonte Matese
tel. +39 320 7466156
r.marifra79@gmail.com

San Cassiano di Rosanna Di Muccio
San Potito Sannitico (Ce)
Via San Cassiano
tel. +39 328 1830268
san.cassiano@hotmail.it

Valle Chiarelle di Patrizia Coluccio
San Potito Sannitico (Ce)
Via Valle Chiarelle, 20
tel. +39 320 9547065
vallechiarelle@virgilio.it


Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
Manfredo Fossa
tel. +39 347 3517575
manfredofossa@virgilio.it

Slow Food Presidium Producers’ Coordinator
Antonietta Melillo
tel. +39 320 6444697
cipolla.alifana@gmail.com