You can travel almost anywhere in the world and still grab a decent slice of pizza. But if you want to truly take part in a cultural pizza-eating experience, then head to Naples, where the process is so important to the local culture that Unesco has just inscribed it onto the list of intangible cultural heritage.
The list of intangible heritage is designed to extend the protection of culture beyond objects and monuments, recognizing traditional skills and knowledge that are passed down through the generations. What sets Naples apart when it comes to pizza is the art of the Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ – a culinary practice made up of four different phases of making the dough and baking it in a wood-fired oven.
Unesco notes that the practice originates in Naples and there are around 3000 “Pizzaiuoli”, or pizza makers, who live and perform the art of pizza making. It’s been granted the status because it fosters social gatherings and inter-generational exchange. Future pizza-makers learn their skills in the ‘bottega’, or shop, where apprentices can learn from the masters. Pizza’s place as a true cultural artefact is likely to please gourmands around the world, but there are a number of other practices that have been added to the list of intangible heritage. German organ craftsmanship, Ireland’s uilleann piping, Turkey’s whistled language and many more have also been inscribed.
For anyone planning to head to Naples to take part in an important practice of cultural heritage, there’s no shortage of places to stop and enjoy some pizza. But remember that there’s also plenty to see in the city where the entire historic centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site.