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Your sauce is cleared for takeoff.

Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017

True story: Back before our current level of heightened airport security, I once flew to Los Angeles with a case of beer as my lone piece of hand luggage. Obviously, those days are long gone as anyone who’s ever wanted to fly home with a local hot sauce or special wine can attest to. But an airport in Italy understands the anguish of travelers looking to bring back a liquid souvenir without going through the hassle of checking a bag: Genoa Airport has issued an exception to the 100 milliliter liquid rule specifically for – and only for – pesto.

Starting at the beginning of this month, the international airport in Northern Italy has started allowing passengers to board with larger amounts of the region’s famous sauce in their carry-on luggage. “If it's not pesto, it can't fly in hand luggage,” Genoa Airport press officer Nur El Gawohary emphasized to The Local. Granted, the relaxed rule – also known as the “Il pesto e buono” (aka “Pesto is good”) initiative – has some restrictions of its own. Pesto jars still can’t exceed 500 grams, and pesto-loving passengers also have to make a donation to Flying Angels, a charity that provides flights to ill children traveling abroad for medical care. Also, the pesto must be Genovese: No exception will be made from some third-rate non-local pesto you bought at the supermarket.

“Every year hundreds of pesto jars were seized at security controls and thrown away - a waste of food and an annoyance to our passengers,” El Gawohary was quoted as saying. He also stresses that strict safety standards are still in place: The pesto gets checked just like other liquids that are given exemptions. “We use the same equipment [to check the pesto] that is used to check medicines, special foods or breast milk, which can already be brought in the cabin in quantities over 100ml,” he said.

Somewhat oddly, even though airport officials say that more than 500 people have taken advantage of the new rule in its first 20 days, many of those people are not tourists, but actually locals from the Liguria region who want to take their own pesto when they travel. You know what they say: A good pesto is hard to find.