Vincenzo Anselmi recounts. Photography by Roberto Ridi
«Passing on traditions is easy, making people love and appreciate them is a different matter». So begins Vincenzo Anselmi who, as a native of the Marciana area and expert on the onion known as the “Cipolla di Patresi” has been working at the forefront to reinstate the seed of the Patresi tradition.
Agriculture and sheep farming have always been part of my life and thanks to the passion and experience of my grandparents and parents I share their love for the earth.
I have many recollections of my childhood spent separating onion seeds from the chaff or weeding the vines in search of juicy bunches of onions; in those days, back in the ’70s, they were a source of livelihood for many inhabitants of the Island of Elba. Today, in my work in Patresi I love nature and I want to pass on to my children and grandchildren those same traditions.
Harvesting onions in Patresi
The great desire to preserve and pass on old traditions and crops has lead to cherished collaboration with Dr Agostino Stefani of the University of Sant’Anna over recent years. From this synergy came the idea of restoring the seed of the Patresi Onion, which had been gradually disappearing over the course of time. My main task has been to offer the seeds for restoration; the University has reproduced and distributed them to a number of farmers. The rest has been done thanks to the many volunteers who have collaborated actively on the project.
Patresi onion string
Preserving the Patresi Onion means preserving a plant with a very sweet, non-acidic taste. These organoleptic features made it an important part of local culinary traditions, for which it was grown on the banks of ditches, where the soil had plenty of water.
Today the Cipolla di Patresi is grown in Schiopparello near Portoferraio, in the vegetable garden of the Tuscan Archipelago National Park on Pianosa and also in a Portoferraio nursery.
Thanks to this cultivation, tens of thousands of plants reach the market.
The Patresi Onion
Traditional recipes using this delicious local vegetable include squid with onion, onion omelette, grilled onions and onion jam and it is an excellent raw ingredient for salads.
The Patresi Onion can be purchased from “Biagio” in Schiopparello and from the Pianosa vegetable garden.
TIPS FOR SINGLES
Visit Patresi and check out our guide on the top experiences of the western Elba ring. You’ll find lots of interesting ideas!
TIPS FOR COUPLES
The west coast is full of small ravines and enchanting places just for two, visit them on a romantic canoe trip along the coast and for an even more unforgettable stay, book one of our adorable B&Bs >
TIPS FOR FAMILIES
A holiday on Elba and great peace of mind: in Patresi, Chiessi, Pomonte and Sant’Andrea, children can play together in the pedestrian areas in complete safety and enjoy making new friends. Read also our article about the Pomonte Wreck and the enchanting bay and promontory of S. Andrea.
Photo ©Roberto Ridi