Italy throws a party for pizza’s great­est hour

Nation re­joices as the art of spin­ning dough joins the UN list of ‘in­tan­gi­ble heritage’ trea­sures

The Daily Telegraph - - World news - By An­drea Vogt in Bologna

PIZZA purists in Italy were yes­ter­day cel­e­brat­ing a vic­tory 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 piz­za­maker who tosses his swirling dough into the air, has been handed down the gen­er­a­tions in Naples and ex­ported through­out the world.

Yes­ter­day 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 piz-

‘Vic­tory! This is an­other step toward the pro­tec­tion of Italy’s food and wine heritage world­wide’

za­iuolo!” 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 €10bil­lion (£8.8bil­lion) 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.”

The Piz­zaioli Ac­ro­bats Coldiretti team per­forms pizza-twirling in the streets of Naples to cel­e­brate. The in­dus­try em­ploys 100,000 peo­ple and is worth £8.8 bil­lion to the econ­omy

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