Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 12.COM 11.B.17

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Italy has nominated Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ (No. 00722) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The art of the Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ is a culinary practice comprising four different phases relating to the preparation of the dough and its baking in a wood-fired oven, involving a rotatory movement by the baker. The element originates in Naples, the capital of the Campania Region, where about 3,000 Pizzaiuoli now live and perform. Pizzaiuoli are a living link for the communities concerned. There are three primary categories of bearers – the Master Pizzaiuolo, the Pizzaiuolo and the baker – as well as the families in Naples who reproduce the art in their own homes. The element fosters social gatherings and intergenerational exchange, and assumes a character of the spectacular, with the Pizzaiuolo at the centre of their ‘bottega’ sharing their art. Every year, the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli organizes courses focused on the history, instruments and techniques of the art in order to continue to ensure its viability. Technical know-how is also guaranteed in Naples by specific academies, and apprentices can learn the art in their family homes. However, knowledge and skills are primarily transmitted in the ‘bottega’, where young apprentices observe masters at work, learning all the key phases and elements of the craft.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The element represents the culinary know-how related to pizza-making, involving gestures, songs, facial expressions, local slang, the skills of manipulating pizza dough, performing and sharing. The bearers and guests engage in a social ritual with the Pizzaiuolo, whose bench and oven serve as a ‘stage’ during the pizza-making process. This occurs in a convivial atmosphere involving constant exchanges with the guests. Stemming from the poor neighbourhoods of Naples, the culinary tradition is deeply rooted in the daily life of the community. For many young practitioners, learning to become a Pizzaiuolo also represents a way to avoid social marginality. The file also demonstrates a specific concern with sustainability, i.e. through the use of natural ingredients and wood from forests qualified as sustainable habitats.

R.2:   The inscription of the element would point to the importance of food traditions as strong identity markers that are easily accessible to a wide audience from different cultural backgrounds who share primordial nutritional needs. The skills involved in working natural, basic ingredients such as flour and water are a testimony to the creativity of the practitioners. The element is also an example of how intangible cultural heritage can stimulate the creativity of children. Its inscription would contribute to the visibility and diversity of intangible cultural heritage by highlighting the specific nature of an element that combines craftsmanship and foodways, and would further foster dialogue between the community concerned both in Italy and in other communities that practise similar arts linked to food worldwide.

R.3:   The viability of the element has so far been ensured by the communities concerned through identification, research, documentation, transmission and awareness-raising activities. For example, regular courses are held by the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli, along with the Academy of Young Pizzaiuoli. The Italian Ministry of Agriculture has promoted this art in Italy and worldwide and established specific measures aimed at its safeguarding. The safeguarding measures proposed include the establishment of new, specific educational programmes and vocational training, the International Exhibition of Pizzaiuolo Napoletano, which the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli has been organizing every year since 2002, research and cultural mapping, the initiation of a project aimed at collecting oral histories of master bearers, the creation of a specific mobile application related to the element and so on. The local and national governmental bodies have prepared the funds to support these measures.

R.4:   The nomination process began in 2010 when the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli contacted the Ministry of Agriculture to propose the initiative. The informed involvement of the local communities is demonstrated. Despite the lengthy nomination process at the national level, the continued and reinforced interest of community members (including related associations, scholars, experts and primary schools) has been demonstrated by their wide participation, for example through periodic meetings and social networks. The petition supporting the nomination collected one million signatures from Neapolitans. Children’s artworks illustrating consent to the nomination are attached, together with other consent letters.

R.5:   The element is included in several inventories. For example, in 2010 it was included in the National Inventory of Artisans and Traditional Techniques and in 2012 it was listed on the National Register of Traditional Knowledges established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies. The office responsible for the artisan inventory is the National Committee for the Promotion and Preservation of Italian Foodstuffs and Practices. It is updated annually on the basis of proposals submitted by Italian regions. The inventories have been drawn up with the participation of communities, groups and relevant non-governmental organizations.

  1. Inscribes Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Reminds the State Party of the importance of using vocabulary and concepts that are appropriate to the Convention and to therefore avoid expressions such as ‘authenticity’, ‘counterfeit’, geographic ‘origin’, as well as any reference to exclusive ownership over intangible cultural heritage;
  3. Underlines that safeguarding measures aiming at ‘preserving the authenticity’ of an element of intangible cultural heritage are not in line with the spirit of the Convention and would contradict the evolving nature of living heritage, which is by definition constantly recreated by the communities concerned.