Pizza. The favorite food of many and consumed in the billions of slices each year all around the globe. While the pizza as we know it today was invented in Naples, Italy, the dish stems back thousands of years when early humans would add variety to their bread with an array of toppings and other ingredients. Despite the dishes popularity, most don’t know that the name pizza stems back to the first ever pizza delivery and party to a Catholic Bishop in the 10th century.

The first ever usage of the word “pizza” was found recorded in a document stored in the archives of the Cathedral of Saints Erasmus and Marciano and Santa Maria Assunta in Gaeta, Italy. The document, entitled codex diplomaticus cajtanus, was a rental agreement over the usage of a mill and its associated land that the Church owned at the time.

In the lease the son of Duke Marino II, Bernardo, had agreed to pay the Bishop of Gaeta in pizza for the usage of the mill.

“Every year on Christmas Day of the Lord, you and your heirs must be paid to us and our successors, by way of rent for the overwritten bishop and without recrimination twelve pizzas, shoulder pork and kidney, and similarly twelve pizzas, and a couple of chickens in the day of Holy Easter of Resurrection.”

The discovery of the document was detailed in a report by Giuseppe Nocca, food culture historian and instructor at the State Institute for Food and Catering Services and Hospitality Services in Formia, Italy. In his report, he set out to trace back the etymology of pizza throughout the ages. While the document was written in medieval Latin, the usage of pizza within it is one of the first ever uses of written vernacular Italian. Not only did the document record the first ever usage of pizza, it is also the first ever recorded pizza delivery and pizza party.

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  1. A group of parishioners from my former parish wanted to stay in touch, so we gather for pizza, sometimes preceded by Mass, on a regular basis. I’ve been joking that it’s the sacrament of pizza. I had no idea how appropriate that was!

    • A couple English-language reports point to an article La Repubblica, and it quotes the two words “doduodecim pizze” for the “twelve pizzas” – but I cannot find anything so far which links to Giuseppe Nocca paper, or even gives its citation details!

      Dr. Taylor Marshall writes, ‘Since the town of Gaeta at that time belonged to the Byzantine Empire, the Latinized word “pizze” is likely a corruption of the Greek “pitta” or “πίττα” – a reference to “flatbread.”’ But Keith Miller suggests, “This could just be a naturalised version of “pita”, a Byzantine Greek word for a small loaf, cake or pie, still used today to denote the little flatbreads we dunk in our hummus. In 997, Europeans, be they millers or archbishops, would still be strangers to the tomato for five centuries. Neapolitan pizza is first mentioned by name in the eighteenth century” though he also notes, “Another historian, Angelo Forgione, has already mentioned the codex cajtanus in his book Made in Naples; he also points out that Plato mentions something very much like pizza” – but I can only find that in Italian: Made in Naples. Come Napoli ha civilizzato l’Europa (e come continua a farlo).


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