Italy has chosen Neapolitan pizza as its candidate for protection under UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The Italian National Commission for UNESCO decided to recognise "the art of Neapolitan pizza makers" in tribute to their culinary skills. The list "is composed of intangible heritage elements that concerned communities and states parties consider require urgent measures to keep them alive", according to the UNESCO website. Naples has long been determined to maintain its reputation as the spiritual home of one of the world's favourite foods.
Neapolitan pizza is characterised by its raised crust rendered golden by oven cooking, by the crispy yet tender consistency of its pastry, and by its acid tomato taste, along with aromas of oregano, garlic, basil and mozzarella. The role of the pizza maker, or pizzaiolo, and the wood-fire oven are also determining characteristics of the Neapolitan pizza. The base should be no more than 3 millimetres (about an eighth of an inch) thick and cooked for between 60 and 90 seconds in a stone oven with an oak-wood fire. The Neapolitan pizza was invented in the southern Italian city between 1715 and 1725, with the world-famous Margherita variant first cooked up in 1889. Tradition has it that Queen Margherita of Savoy asked one of Naples' famed pizzaiole to come up with a dish for the people. The result, which provides the basis for most pizzas enjoyed around the world, represented the colours of recently unified Italy: green basil, white mozzarella and red tomatoes.