The art of Neapolitan “Pizzaiuolo”

Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

1.1 Description of the element

Gestures, songs, smiles, skills, motions, performance, sharing: the art of Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo is a culinary know-how transmitted through generations until today, consisting of four different phases. The first lies in the kneading of the dough by the Pizzaiuolo until it reaches the desired consistency and smoothness, the shaping of dough balls (in local dialect “staglio”) and the preparation of the oven only by burning beech wood. The second phase represents a performing art characterized by ability and spectacularity of Pizzaiuolo, who spreads the dough (so-called “ammaccatura”), and models the raised rim (called “cornicione”), with skilfully motions for its extension (called “schiaffo”) creating a disk. The Pizzaiuolo makes the dough spinning and twirling it between both hands and then raises it to the air with a quick movement, often singing traditional songs. In this way, the dough assumes its correct oxygenation and consistency thanks to an appropriate and harmonic manipulation. The third phase is related to the topping of the dough: Pizzaiuolo put ingredients on from the centre outwards with a spiraling and clockwise motion, shaping an imaginary “6”. The fourth consists in baking it in a wood-fired oven, with a rotatory movement of the baker.
The element concerns a process engaging Pizzaiuolo and their guests: a social ritual that found its place between the Pizzaiuolo’s bench and the oven, always in the center of the “stage”. Pizzaiuolo and hosts share together a convivial moment where stories, songs and social value of everyday life find their opportunity to be spread in a continuous collective feedback. Infact, Neaples’s families try, at home, especially during festive days, to repeat this ritual and to learn by Pizzaiuolo how to re-create this art.

1.2 Geographical location and Range of the element:

The element is located in Naples, the capital of Campania Region, the third-largest Italian municipality with about 4 million people living in its metropolitan area. Naples (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since 1995) is situated on the Gulf of Naples, lying between Mount Vesuvius Volcano to the east, the Campi Flegrei to the north and Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast to the south. Because of the small urban area, which accounts only 118 km², the population density is among the highest in the world with more than 8,100 inhab./km². The community of Naples is a network of social and cultural relationships enhanced by a strong multiculturalism; a succession of foreign dominations and dynasties (Greek, Romans, Norman, Angevin, Aragonese, Bourbon) enriched the artistic and cultural heritage of the city and of the nominated element, transforming Naples in an important model of integration and dialogue between different cultures.

1.3 Domain(s) of the element:

Domain(s) of the element as intangible cultural heritage identified according to the Article 2.2 of the Convention:

Oral traditions and expressions, including language as a vehicle of the intangible cultural heritage

Performing arts

Social practices, rituals and festive events

Evaluation Body Decision

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