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Perhaps the greatest misconception about Italian food is that it's all garlicky. Outside of the Piedmontese classic bagna càuda and a few southern Italian pasta sauces such as aglio, olio e peperoncino (garlic, oil and hot peppers) pasta however, it rarely dominates the flavours, and if included is well cooked and mild.

Silvio Berlusconi famously hates it and has banned it from his table. Anyone who approaches him with garlic on their breath has two strikes against them (he prefers a fresh, minty scent).

Three kinds are in the Ark of Taste: Aglio di Vessalico from Liguria, Aglio Rosso di Nùbia from Sicily and the pungent rose-tinted Aglio di Resia from the Val di Resia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Although not on the list, Aglio rosso (pink garlic) from Sulmona in the Abruzzo is highly prized for its aromatic qualities, and is even used in medicines.

aglio orsino ('bear garlic', Allium ursinum) is wild garlic; its fresh leaves are used in the kitchen in the spring.

aglio in camicia: with the skin on

In early July, Vessalico holds a Fiera dell'aglio, that goes back to 1760

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Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Katri