It's official: Pizza-making listed as Italian heritage

Bologna: Pizza purists in Italy were celebrating a victory on Thursday over the kind of culinary piracy that has seen their national dish tarnished with prawns and pineapple and stuffed crusts.

The United Nations has decided to add the Neapolitan art of pizza-making to its list of "intangible heritage".

The craft of the pizzaiuolo, the pizza-maker who tosses his swirling dough into the air, has been handed down the generations in Naples and exported throughout the world.

 On Thursday it was given the coveted status by the world heritage committee of Unesco, meeting this week on the South Korean island of Jeju.

It came after intense lobbying, including a petition signed by two million Italians, many of them aggrieved at the culinary abominations they witness abroad, such as topping pizza with pineapple, prawns, mayonnaise and even cannabis.

It is not just the flamboyant twirling of pizza dough into the air to oxygenise the dough that convinced the committee, but also the gestures, folklore, songs and customs that surround the process, which now joins a diverse group of more than 350 art forms and traditions on the list.


"Fantastico," exclaimed one Naples pizzamaker upon hearing the news on the phone as he prepared his dough for the day ahead.

Angelino Alfano, Italy's foreign minister, said: "A special thanks to the two million Italians who signed the #pizzaUnesco petition and contributed to this great victory."

Maurizio Martina, Italy's minister for agriculture, food and forestry, tweeted: "Victory! This is another step toward the protection of Italy's food and wine heritage worldwide."

Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, the country's former agriculture minister, was among the Italians who attended the proceedings in South Korea.

"Long live the art of Neapolitan pizzaiuolo!" he said on a video posted online.

Pizza is one of Naples's biggest claims to fame.

Legend has it that the Pizza Margherita was created in 1889 to celebrate a visit from Queen Margherita of Savoy. Its three main ingredients: red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil, reflect the national colours of Italy.

Luigi de Magistris, the mayor of Naples, said the decision signalled the city's power to captivate through art, culture, tradition and creativity.

Italy's pizza industry employs 100,000 people and generates £10 billion ($17.9 billion) a year.

Finding work as a pizzamaker, especially in some of the poorer quarters of Naples, can be one of the few escape routes from poverty. Many go on to bake pizza for top restaurants abroad.

"Instead of popping champagne today we will be baking pizza," said Ciro Oliva, of the Concettina ai Tre Santi pizzeria. "And maybe young people like me won't have to emigrate."

Telegraph, London