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Onions are closely linked to the image of the land around Certaldo and have a special meaning for the inhabitants – indeed in the rivalry between townships that are a feature of this region, the people of Certaldo are dubbed  "cipolloni" or big onions.

certaldo cipolla

The onion appears on the municipal coat of arms (a split shield, white and red, surmounted by an onion in a white background with a motto, probably as far back as the times of the Counts Alberti who dominated the area in the 12th century. 
But the most famous citation is in the work by Giovanni Boccaccio, who was born in Certaldo, who mentions it in book VI of the Decameron. 
The area of production is prevalently in the municipal territory of Certaldo, with some overspill into the nearby towns of Montespertoli, Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Gimignano, Gambassi Terme and Castelfiorentino. 
There are two main types of onion which differ according to the season of production: the statina, harvested in summer, which is light violet in colour, juicy and relatively sweet, and the vernina, harvested in autumn, dark red in colour, slight squashed at top and tail and with a typically pungentflavour. 
The vernina is sold in the shops throughout the province while the statina can be bought directly from the farmers or at the local festivals and events. Furthermore, cooking enthusiasts can obtain some basic recipes for onions at local events or in specialist publications, showing how very versatile this vegetable is.
In addition to jams to enjoy with cheese, the most classic recipe is to sauté the onion in hot olive oil, pass it through a sieve, dilute it with stock and a couple of potatoes to make a cream to be flavoured with extra virgin oliveoil and spread on lightly toasted slices of Tuscan bread. 
Another local speciality is re-cooked left-over boiled beef sautéed with a base of lots of onion and tomato and diluted with beef stock in cooking.

Published: 20/3/2014

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