Hold the pineapple: Naples celebrates as pizza awarded special status by Unesco

Kumbh Mela recognises as India's cultural heritage by UNESCO

Officially validating a fact that is already nearly universally acknowledged, UNESCO has announced today that it will recognize the art of Neapolitan pizza as deserving of World Heritage status on the the Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

It is not just the flamboyant art of twirling pizza dough into the air to oxygenize it that convinced the committee, but also the gestures, folklore, songs and social customs that surround the Italian pizzamaking process, which now joins a diverse group of more than 350 art forms and traditions from across the globe on the Unesco list. With the pizza makers, Italy now counts six cultural practices on the "intangible cultural heritage" list, including the "Mediterranean diet" and Cremona's violin craftsmanship.

"Knowledge and skills related to the element are primarily transmitted in the "bottega" of the Pizzaiuoli where young apprentices can observe their master at work", UNESCO said in a statement.

PIzzaiuolo follows a series of steps including twirling to create the ideal dough, and the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani says that the practice has roots as far back as the 1700s.

"The element originates in Naples, the capital of the Campania Region, where about 3,000 Pizzaiuoli now live and perform", wrote the 24-member UNESCO Committee during its annual meeting, which this year runs December 4-9.

"We'll be giving out free pizza in the streets", Sergio Miccu, head of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli, told the Agence France Presse after the United Nations decision, which highlighted the history of passing down the art through generations.

The pizza makers relished in their new honor as they did what they do best, making Margherita-style pizza Thursday with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil before handing them out to the public for free.

Italy is already the country with the most UNESCO world heritage sites at 53, including the historic centres of Rome, Naples and Florence, the entire lagoon city of Venice and the Amalfi Coast.

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