Naples pizza twirling seeks nod as Unesco ‘intangible’

Naples' art of pizza twirling is a candidate to join Unesco's list of "intangible heritage" next week along with a wealth of other cultural treasures such as Saudi Arabian wall painting and Bangladeshi cane weaving.

Naples pizza twirling seeks nod as Unesco 'intangible'
Photo: Depositphotos
Meeting on the South Korean island of Jeju, the UN cultural body's World Heritage Committee will also consider whether to give special support for heritage that is struggling to survive.
Naples' candidacy for pizza twirling has created a buzz in the southern Italian city where the art has been handed down for generations — as well as around the world.
Some two million people have joined a petition of support of Naples' application, according to Sergio Miccu, head of the Association of Neapolitan Pizzaioli, who will be in Jeju for the proceedings.
“We're confident the vote will be favourable,” Miccu told AFP in Rome, adding: “We'll be giving out free pizza in the streets” if the age-old culinary tradition joins the prestigious list.
The custom goes far beyond the pizzaiolo's spectacular handling of the dough — hurling it into the air in order to “oxygenate” it — to include songs and stories that have turned pizza-making into a time-honoured social ritual.
Thirty-four candidates are seeking to join the list of intangible heritage, which currently includes 365 traditions, art forms and practices from Spain's flamenco dancing to Indonesian batik, to more obscure entries such as a Turkish oil wrestling festival and the Mongolian coaxing ritual for camels.
Saudi Arabia wants to see Al-Qatt Al-Asin, elaborate interior wall paintings traditionally done by women, inscribed on the list this year. The art, which promotes solidarity among women, is handed down through observation.
For its part, Bangladesh has put forward its tradition of Shital Pati, an intricate weaving craft using strips of green cane to produce mats and bedspreads.
Keeping the youth interested
The list of “intangible” cultural treasures was created in 2003, mainly to increase awareness about them, while Unesco also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.
Morocco is sounding the alarm this year for its martial dance called Taskiwin, and Turkey is concerned over its whistled language heritage. Both are threatened by declining interest in the traditions among young people.
Unesco began compiling a list for cultural and natural world heritage — physical properties such as Cambodia's Angkor Wat or the Grand Canyon in the United States — in 1972.
The World Heritage list now comprises 814 cultural sites, 203 natural ones and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities such as Australia's Uluru National Park, formerly known as Ayer's Rock.
The committee winds up its review of nominations to the list of Representative Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on Friday.
By AFP's Gina Doggett with Fanny Carrier in Rome


Venice may be put on Unesco endangered list if cruise ships not banned

The UN art heritage agency has said it may put Venice on its ‘endangered’ list if the lagoon city does not permanently ban cruise ships from docking there.

Venice may be put on Unesco endangered list if cruise ships not banned
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

The Italian lagoon city, along with Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the city of Budapest, and Liverpool’s waterfront may be put on the list of “World Heritage in Danger,” meaning they risk being removed from Unesco’s prestigious list of world heritage sites completely.

Unesco said on Monday the issue will be discussed at a meeting of its World Heritage Committee, which oversees the coveted accolade, in Fuzhou, China, on July 16-31.

It “would be a very serious thing for our country” if Venice was removed, said Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini on Monday.

READ ALSO: ‘More local, more authentic’: How can Italy move toward responsible tourism in future?

The MSC Orchestra cruise ship arrives in Venice on June 3rd, 2021. Photo: ANDREA PATTARO/AFP

Participants at the China meeting will make the final decision on the deletion and warning proposals, and the agency could demand urgent action on cruise ships from the Italian government by next February.

There has long been concern about the impact of cruise ships on the city’s delicate structures and on the lagoon’s fragile ecosystem.

READ ALSO: Hundreds demonstrate against cruise ships’ return to Venice

The Italian government appeared to have passed a ban on cruise ships docking in Venice earlier this year – but the giant vessels continue to arrive in the city.

The government’s decree in fact did not constitute an immediate ban.

Instead, it said a plan for docking cruise ships outside Venice’s lagoon must be drawn up and implemented.

In the meantime, the ships will continue sailing through the lagoon and docking at the city’s industrial port, which has been the landing site for them since last December.