Italy requests UNESCO recognition for Neapolitan Pizza. After the Mediterranean diet was added to the list of world recognised cultural icons, Italy is requesting special UNESCO status for the Neapolitan pizza as well as other national treasures such as Sienna’s Palio horse-race, violin making in Cremona and a number of other ancient festivals.
The Neapolitan pizza was voted by Italians as one of the dishes that was a national symbol above Spaghetti alla Bolognese and Bruschetta with olive oil.
Pizza as we know it today originated from Naples and was traditionally a food of the poor Neapolitan people sold in open air stalls on the street. The story of the Pizza Margherita originates from 1889 when a local pizzaiolo Raffaelle Esposito made a pizza with mozzarella, tomato and basil leaves, representing the red, white and green of the Italian flag. The pizza was made in honor of and presented to Queen Margherita of Savoy who was visiting Naples with her husband King Umberto I. It is quite possible that the origins of this style of Pizza are from much earlier than the arrival of the Queen Margherita in 1889 although the story of Esposito’s Margherita is what has been popularised to this day.
The art of pizza making is a central element of Neapolitan and Italian identity. A symbol recognised around the world. The Neapolitan pizzaiolo insist that the three quality ingredients of mozzarella, tomato and basil are all that is needed to make a perfect Margherita pizza. The pizza base must be a 3mm disc of dough with a softer 1-2cm crust needed by hand and cooked in a wood fire oven.
The pizza industry in Italy is reportedly worth over €10 billion and employs around 100 thousand people. Italians want pizza recognised and protected as today many imported ingredients are continually replacing the genuine Italian products such as tomatoes, olive oil and buffalo mozzerella. We await the decision by UNESCO in Paris in 2017 with great anxiety.
On many of our Vita Italian Tours when visiting the Naples area travellers have the opportunity to experience the joy of eating an authentic Pizza Margherita. Buon appetito!