I had never heard of this island until I got to Naples, Italy. Located just off the coast and less than one hour by ferry, it is the ultimate vacation spot for the locals. Forget the touristic frenzy and overpriced extravagance of Capri. Ischia has retained that untouched quality that so many of us travellers are looking for, but thought had ceased to exist. The streets are still paved with cobblestone. Vintage Fiats needle through the narrow alleyways, barely avoiding hitting the walls by just a hair. No gaudy golden arches of McDonald’s or Starbucks to be seen anywhere.
Naples is the birthplace of pizza. It is difficult not to find a good pie around here. The streets are filled with pizza shops, with display windows of the pizza makers, “pizzaiolos,” hard at work kneading and forming the elastic balls of dough with care. EVERY pizza joint is equipped with a wood-fired oven, which is just a formality in the States. And don’t you dare ask for extra Parm, chili flakes, or any additional condiments. Here, pizzaiolos take their pizza very seriously and are proud of their product.
So much so, that the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was started in 1984. It’s an association that is dedicated towards regulating the branding of the term “verace pizza Napoletana,” the true Neapolitan pizza. Similar to the guidelines behind the branding of the term, “champagne.” The AVPN is responsible for regulating the use of the brand “verace pizza Napoletana,” and works consistently to inspect the establishments that are under its license. In order to to be considered a legitimate pizza maker of Neopolitan pizza, one must follow the strict guidelines set forth by the association.