It was once an honourable artisan trade passed from generation to generation.
But despite record unemployment levels, today’s Italians are too proud to make pizza.
In the land that invented the calzone, the capricciosa and the margarita, there is a severe shortage of skilled pizza makers or pizzaioli.
Pizza makers show their ability in Rome’s Via della Conciliazione in the Jubilee of the Pizza Makers . It has been claimed despite record unemployment levels, today’s Italians are too proud to make pizza
At least 6,000 are desperately needed, according to new figures from business federation FIPE.
‘Notwithstanding the economic crisis and unemployment, it is proving difficult to find them,’ the association said in a report released this week.
As the euro crisis bites, the demand for cheap fast food has boomed.
In big cities pizza is still the most affordable and convenient food for office workers to grab at lunch-time, producing an annual turnover of nine billion Euros.
But despite youth unemployment of 35 per cent the young Italians no longer want to do the job. Because of the long hours and low pay it is seen as work for immigrants.
Enrico Stoppani,of the Italian Federation of Merchants said: ‘Young people see hospitality as a low grade job.
‘Even when they do go into the industry they want to be a chef in a five star hotel not a pizzaiolo.’
Foreigners are increasingly taking their place in Italy’s 50,000 pizzerias, with Egyptians emerging as a dominant force among the estimated 240 thousand pizzaioli, who earn as little as 1000 Euro a month.
Allam Rabie, who arrived in Italy from Cairo in 1990 and now runs his own pizzeria on Rome’s Via Cavour, said: ‘It’s s tough job because you work morning to night and your on your feet all day with your head in a hot oven.
‘The young Italians don’t want to do it any more. They have everything – cars, clothes. Before it wasn’t like that. People had nothing so they had to work hard.’
Egyptians are used to hard work, he claimed. ‘We also have a natural aptitude because we love cooking and are good at learning new things.
‘Of the Egyptians working in Italy, nine out of ten is a pizzaiolo, the tenth is a chef. We have completely taken over in Rome.’
One of Rome’s remaining homegrown pizza makers, Vincenzo De Mitis, who runs his own pizzeria in the Monti district, said: ‘There aren’t many of us left.
‘The older generation are dying out and young Italians don’t want to do it because they aren’t willing to work for such low wages.
They would rather go and work abroad and there are dozens of immigrants ready to take their place.’