Lonely Planet Writer

Italian airport waives liquids limit for hand luggage - but only for pesto

If you’ve ever bought a bottle or jar of something delicious on holiday to take home as a souvenir, only to fall foul of the 100ml hand luggage restriction on liquids, you’ll know the pain of being forced to dump your precious cargo at security. But security staff at Genoa airport in northern Italy got tired of throwing away perfectly good food, and decided to make an exception to the rule – for locally made pesto.

Pesto beats the liquids ban at Genoa airport.
Pesto beats the liquids ban at Genoa airport. Image by DeAgostini/Getty Images

Food is sacrosanct in Italy, and in the northern Italian city of Genoa, pesto is the most sacrosanct food of all. Made by crushing garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil, cheese and olive oil in a pestle and mortar, pesto alla genovese is one of Italy’s most famous, and most delicious, accompaniments for pasta.

Launched at the start of June, Genoa airport’s Il pesto è buono (Pesto is good) programme allows passengers to take up to 500g of locally made pesto onto the plane with them if they make a 50 cent donation to charity. According to the airport’s press officer Nur El Gawohary, safety is ensured by scanning the jars with the same special x-ray machine that is used to check other liquids that can be brought on board in quantities over 100ml, such as medicines and breast milk. The money donated is given to local children’s charity Flying Angels, which helps seriously ill children travel overseas for treatment.

So far, over 500 pots of pesto have been taken through security, raising over €500 for charity and preventing hundreds of litres of delicious pesto from going to waste. El Gawohary is delighted with the success of the scheme: “To allow tourists to take it home in their hand luggage, as well as allowing Ligurians to bring it to friends and family when they visit them, is a way of serving our clients, helping Flying Angels, and promoting our Ligurian cuisine.” Buon appetito!