(ANSA) – Naples, June 11 2009 – Celebrations were under way here on Thursday to mark the 120th anniversary of the creation of the now traditional Pizza Margherita.

Pizza margherita

Boasting the three colors of the Italian flag – red (tomatos), white (Mozzarella) and green (basil) – the pizza was invented for the visit to Naples by Italy`s Queen Margherita of Savoy, the wife of Italy`s second king, Umberto I.

The pizza`s birthday celebration was highlighted by a parade of local aristocrats in 19th century dress, flag throwers, archers in Medieval costumes and hundreds of Neapolitans and visitors who joined in the fun.

The parade, with `Queen Margherita` escorted in a coach, started at the San Carlo opera house, snaked through the narrow streets of the old Spanish Quarter, stopped briefly in Pizza Plebiscito, next to the royal palace, and then ended up in front of the Brandi pizzeria, where the `Margherita` was invented and which has been making pizza since 1780.

Last year the Margherita was officially recognised as the `real Neapolitan Pizza` by the European Union and given coveted TSG (traditional speciality guaranteed) status by Brussels

In order to qualify as a `real` Margherita, the pizza must be made from durum wheat flour, fresh yeast, water and sea salt, with a topping of olive oil, San Marzano tomatoes (in slices no thicker than 8mm) and mozzarella made from buffalo milk.

It is one of the few foods composed almost exclusively of the Campania region`s three PDO (protected designation of origin) products already recognize by the EU: San Marzano tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil from Campania, and `mozzarella di bufala`.

Queen Margherita`s visit to Naples not only produced the three-colored pizza but also a famous song, “Torna a Surriento` (Return to Sorrento).

The catchy tune has been recorded by the likes of Enrico Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti and even Elvis Presley.

In 1961 Elvis recorded a translated version of the song, renamed `Surrender`, and repeated the number-one hit success of his other translated Italian song a year earlier: `It`s Now or Never`, originally `O Sole Mio`.

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