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How the art of making pizza entered the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

UNESCO acknowledges the skills of Neapolitan Pizza Chefs as part of the world heritage

How the art of making pizza entered the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Claudia Astarita

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Becoming a pizza chef (or pizzaiolo in Italian) is not just as job but it is a form of art. This ancient job has been recently acknowledged by the UNESCO governmental committee as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Neapolitan Pizza Chef application to UNESCO started in 2009 and it was coordinate by Professor Pier Luigi Petrillo (LUISS University Rome) who has been a resilient advocate for Neapolitan Pizza Chef art as one of the highest expression of identity belonging to the Neapolitan culture.

UNESCO committee has remarked how making pizza is not just a mere act, but a cooking know-how connected with specific moves, songs, visual expressions, local slang and exhibitions which undoubtedly represents a great cultural heritage. It seems like pizza chefs are ready to perform their show, where the oven is their stage and the customers are their audience. Everything takes place within an informal and friendly atmosphere.

In Naples, cooking tradition is even more rooted in the poorest areas where becoming a pizza chef is often considered by young people as a way to escape social marginalization and poverty. The mayor Luigi De Magistris has commented on this UNESCO outstanding award, thanking all Neapolitan pizza chefs in Italy and abroad for their passion, stressing the "great power Naples has thanks to its art, traditions and creativity".

After this great achievement, HE Vincenza Lomonaco, the Italian Ambassador at UNESCO in Paris, officially thanked all states who have supported Italy in this important achievement. Mrs Lomonaco also stressed the central role played by Italy in promoting the agro-food tradition within the United Nations and also in the field of Education, Science and Culture.

UNESCO acnowledgement is not only an outstanding achievement for Naples but for the whole country, supporting Neapolitan candidature. As remarked by Angelino Alfano, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, "2 million Italians signed the petition #pizzaUnesco contributing to this great victory with a healthy dish much loved all over the world".

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