NAPLES, Italy – The city of Naples, often in headlines for its garbage woes and mafia violence, is celebrating international recognition of its tastier side.
UNESCO on Thursday added the art of the Neapolitan pizza maker, or “pizzaiuolo,” to its list of “intangible cultural heritage of humanity.” Neapolitan pizza making was one of 33 traditional practices from around the world that were added to the U.N. cultural organization’s list of “forms of expression” that are of importance to humanity.
Other winners this year were the ritual Kumbh Mela baths taken in India, Bosnian woodcarving, and the “Sega tambour” dance and song performances of Mauritius’ Rodrigues Island.
In Naples, pizza makers celebrated the victory and planned to give away free pies next week at a massive street party.
Agriculture minister Maurizio Martina said Italy’s campaign, launched in 2009, marked the first time UNESCO had recognized a profession linked to food production.
The art of Neapolitan pizza making “involves Italian know-how based on experience, gestures and traditional knowledge passed on from generation to generation,” he said a statement.
Italy is already the country with the most UNESCO world heritage sites at 53, including the historic centres of Rome, Naples and Florence, the entire lagoon city of Venice and the Amalfi Coast. With the pizza makers, Italy now counts six cultural practices on the “intangible cultural heritage” list, including the “Mediterranean diet” and Cremona’s violin craftsmanship.
Being added to the list involves obligations, primarily to safeguard the practice and enforce a U.N. treaty on protecting and promoting “intangible heritage.”
Massimo Boddi, whose Univerde Foundation was responsible for gathering signatures to launch the pizza bid, said the recognition was an important victory of “tradition over globalization” since each pie is made by hand, individually.