The art of the Pizzaiuolo was added to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity following a meeting of the UN cultural body’s committee earlier this month.
The custom consists of four different phases relating to the preparation of the dough, including spinning and twirling, and baking it in a wood-fired oven.
It follows a major lobbying campaign which saw two million Italians sign a petition calling on Unesco to grant the practice heritage status. It argued that the traditional Neapolitan pizza has faced culinary ‘abuses’ overseas, with foreigners topping the beloved dish with pineapple, non-Italian cheeses and other ‘graffiti’.
The campaign sought to gain official recognition of pizza creation as an art form originating in Naples in the hope of protecting the custom from foreign 'food piracy'.
Unesco says the art of the Pizzaiuolo goes beyond the physical handling of the dough, which involves hurling it in the air to ‘oxygenate’ it, and that the practice ‘plays a key role in fostering social gatherings and intergenerational exchange’.
Around 3,000 Pizzaiuoli now live and perform in Naples.
"Victory!" tweeted Maurizio Martina, Italy's minister for agriculture, food and forestry. "Another step towards the protection of Italy's food and wine heritage."
Neapolitan pizza was up against 33 other traditions seeking to join Unesco’s Representative List, which aims to raise awareness of cultural traditions around the world.
Those which made the cut include Irish Uilleann piping, where a particular type of bagpipe is used to play traditional music.