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UNESCO: Italian National Rugby Team stepped up its support to the candidacy of Italian Cuisine

ROME, SEPTEMBER 25 – The Italian National Rugby Team, also known as the Azzurri, has stepped up to support the candidacy of Italian Cuisine as UNESCO’s intangible heritage. The team members were guests of honor at a gala dinner in Lyon, where they will be chasing a historic qualification for the quarter-finals of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France in the coming two weeks, facing the New Zealand All Blacks and the host team.

The dinner offered a new opportunity to strengthen the Azzurri’s role as ambassadors of Italian food and wine culture, which is the focus of the UNESCO intangible heritage candidacy. The event was organized by the Italian Rugby Federation in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty, and Forests.

“We want to showcase and celebrate Italy’s culinary heritage, which also represents our culture, our roots, biodiversity, and food education, and share it with the world. Our cuisine is the result of many local experiences and recipes. We must defend this model because our strength lies in the added value we offer compared to those who want to standardize food, making it the same all over the planet. Instead, we believe in defending quality and the ability to ensure well-being for all peoples,” said Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, speaking at the event alongside the Italian Ambassador to France Emanuela D’Alessandro, the Italian Trade Agency President Matteo Zoppas, and Senator Luca De Carlo.

“You can be champions both on and off the field. The latter case holds even greater value, as the Italian rugby national team is demostrating. We believe that linking our cuisine to sports is essential because good and healthy nutrition is crucial. Rugby is a symbol of this connection. We are proud to represent our nation together, in every game as well as every dish, with a single goal: achieving UNESCO recognition for Italian cuisine,” he explained.

Zoppas noted, “This event in Lyon is an important step in the journey towards Italian cuisine becoming UNESCO’s intangible heritage. Appreciated worldwide, our cuisine is a culture characterized by tradition, the importance of family, biodiversity, and the sustainability of our agricultural products, which are preferred by an ever-growing consumer base.”

Zoppas also highlighted encouraging data from the Italian agri-food sector: “In total, agri-food exports in 2022 reached €60 billion, marking a 15% increase compared to the previous year. The hope is to achieve two international titles within a few years: the rugby national team at the 2027 World Cup in Australia and UNESCO recognition for Italian cuisine in 2025.”

At the conclusion of the dinner, Michele Lamaro, captain of the Azzurri Rugby Team, emphasized the importance of Italian cuisine: “Our country’s cuisine is a unique heritage in the global food and wine landscape. It’s an excellence that the world envies us for, and it serves as an ideal tool for athletes to eat healthily and effectively. Sport is a significant cultural driver, and being part of a process that adds prestige to Italy beyond the field is an honor for all of us.” (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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