Chiana Giant Garlic

Ark of taste
Back to the archive >

Chiana Giant garlic is rarely cultivated these days. In fact, there are less than ten producers, all of whom work in the reclaimed flat lands of the Chiana Valley and in a few fraction of the town of Montepulciano. This giant garlic has a particular aroma and contains no allicin (a particular chemical compound) or its derivatives. This garlic is an almost ivory shade of white, nearly spherical in shape and is slightly flat at the extremities. There are usually six large, individual bulbs in each clove, which can weigh up to 800 grams. It has a very delicate flavor and is used in the Chiana Valley most typically in a pasta dish called pici all’aglione.   Chiana Giant garlic’s history dates back to when the Etruscans lived in the Chiana Valley, while the garlic is also present on Giglio Island. In 1544 the pirate Khayr al-Din, also known as Barbarossa, sacked the island, killed everyone who opposed him and kidnapped and enslaved more than 700 locals. Following this tragedy the Medici family repopulated the island with people from the Chiana Valley, who certainly brought bulbs of Chiana Giant garlic with them.   The historic production zone is the Chiana Valley, around Montepulciano and in particular in the towns of Abbadia, Acquaviva, Gracciano, Montepulciano Station and Valiano. There are 2,000 bulbs of the garlic produced annually, mainly for personal use. With the industrialization of the 1960s, the tradition of cultivating the garlic in a family setting was lost, and thus also the tendency to use it in the kitchen.

Back to the archive >