San Vitaliano, a small town east of Naples, Italy has a big problem with some tiny particles. Newspaper Il Mattino referred to the hamlet as Italy’s Beijing because of its problems with air pollution. And while it’s hard to believe that a place with only 6000 residents could have so much smog, San Vitaliano’s skies hold as much particulate matter as major metropolises around the world, exceeding the acceptable limit for such matter over 100 times in the last year. So earlier this month the mayor took drastic action against a rather surprising scapegoat: Pizza.
Until March 31, businesses are banned from using wood-fired ovens to make pizza not fitted with a special filter or they will face a fine of up to $1130. Police will come by and check restaurants and bakeries through the winter to make sure they are abiding by the mayor’s order. The pizza makers, as you might imagine, are not thrilled about the new restrictions and gathered at the town hall to protest. They claim they couldn’t be the cause of the terrible smog citing the fact that nearby Naples has more pizza ovens and less air pollution.
This is not the first time pizza has been blamed for air pollution. A decade ago lawmakers in Italy passed rules similar to those in effect in San Vitaliano and here in the United States pizza ovens have been cited as polluters as well. But exactly how much pizza contributes to the dangerous air in San Vitaliano remains unsettled.