Few things are more Italian than baking pizza in a perfectly smoldering wood-fired stove, so San Vitaliano's move to ban the beloved practice comes as a surprise. The town of 6,000 north of Naples has some of the worst air pollution in Italy—Il Mattino says its air quality is worse than Beijing's, while Naples is "a perfumed garden" in comparison—but environmental tests have failed to identify the source. In an effort to "take maximum precautions to ensure the problem doesn't deteriorate," Mayor Antonio Falcone has banned "agricultural, artisanal, industrial, and commercial producers … from burning solid biomass such as wood, woodchips, coal, and charcoal," unless filter systems are in place to eliminate 80% of pollutants, reports the Local. The rule will be in place until at least the end of March, reports the BBC.
The Local reports the plan is to relieve the rule in July, August, and September—the situation is poorest in winter, Falcone says—but most pizzerias and bakeries will be forced to change their fuel sources, buy expensive filters, or face fines up to $1,100. "Shocking, it's so ridiculous," a rep from a local pizzeria tells Il Mattino. "We make about 34 pizzas a day, how do they think we are responsible for the pollution problems around here?" "We can't be the cause of the smog," a local who protested outside San Vitaliano's town hall on Sunday adds, per Corriere della Sera. "Naples has many more pizzerias than San Vitaliano but doesn't have the same pollution levels. It's clear that they don't want to pinpoint the real cause. This order is a very costly mistake for us." The BBC reports San Vitaliano residents saw 114 days of unsafe air levels in 2015, compared to Naples' 86. (Read more pizza stories.)