Oranges are the ammunition of this battle royale in the northern Italian town of Ivrea. Referred to as the “largest food fight” in Italy, the Battle of the Oranges engages over 5,000 participants inflicting pain by hurling 60 tons of blood oranges at each other. Ivrea, north of Turin and west of Milan, imports an entire train full of oranges from Sicily each year for the event.
The Battle is based on stories of real people from the rebellion 900 years ago. At this period in time, the “right of the first night” or jus primae noctae allowed the local Lord to sleep with a bride the night before her wedding. As the story goes, the mugnaia (miller’s daughter), went to the castle the night before her wedding, wielded a knife, murdered the Lord and cut his head off. The locals then started a three day rebellion which is represented by the throwing of the oranges.
Activities for this Carnival period celebration started in January and culminate in the coming week with historical parades, feasts and of course, the famous orange fight. Aranceri (orange handlers) on fifty carts battle the aranceri from the nine pedestrian teams. Spectators are strongly advised to purchase and wear at all times the beretto frigio; this red stocking cap identifies the innocent onlookers hoping to escape errant oranges. Nets are strung throughout the parade route with designated areas for spectators to gather beneath for protection. The orange throwing spectacle can be seen on Sunday and Monday nights before dinner, refer to the full program schedule below for parade map and times.
This weekend there is more than skiing to draw you to the Aosta Valley. Aosta is an old Roman town in northwestern Italy with a dramatic mountain backdrop that includes the spectacular Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc), Cervinia (the Matterhorn) and Monte Rosa. Starting about the year 1000 the Fiera di Sant’Orsowas created to honor an Irish monk who began distributing clothing and sabot (wooden shoes) to the poor. Today the tradition continues with over 1,000 artisans and stands distributed throughout the town the final weekend of January.
Early morning until late at night on Saturday and Sunday artisans will display intricate wood carvings, sculptures baskets, ceramics and other forms of fine & folk art. Though this festival has been a showcase for the wood carving craftsment that display their wares, there is also a food and wine tent showcasing every local delicacy you can imagine: cheese, meat, jams, wines and more. The specialty “L’Atelier” tent has over 80 vendors selling a wide variety clothing, furnishings and housewares.
Sabot – Traditional Wooden Shoes
Wood Carving – Woman
Wood Carving – Horse
At night, stroll the streets while sipping warm, mulled wine and listening to spontaneous folk music and singing. Participate in some local food tastings or buy a grolla and share it with friends. La grolla is essentially a friendship cup; it’s carved out of wood, has 2, 4, 6 or 8 spouts and is intended to be filled with coffee, grappa and sugar. You might be able to spot one of these in use at a rifugio on the mountain or during apres ski. Buy one from a wood artisan and take it home with you, the perfect souvenir to bring with you to your next party.
The province of Vercelli in the Piemontee region of Italy is better known for its rice production. This weekend it’s the home of Chocolate Day in the town of Crescentino. From 8:00 AM through 8:00 PM on both Saturday and Sunday, master chocolatiers will display their sweet wares in the Piazza Carretto. You can walk around and sample various chocolates, dip in the chocolate fountain, view the chocolate sculptures on display and smell the roasted chestnuts filling the air. Games for kids, balloons and a visit from Babbo Natale (Father Christmas) round out the day for the kids.
Golden. Crunchy. Warm. Savory. Cicciolo, which are essentially pork cracklins, are the highlight of this festival. The direct translation of Cicciolo d’oro is “greaves of gold”. Greaves are the portion of armor used to protect the shin and calve. At least 400 butchers will gather over 150 pots of boiling oil in Campagnola Emilia this Sunday December 13th to compete for the best cicciolo. Whether you give the cracklins a try or one of the other pork based dishes offered from the street food stands, if you are a fan of pork, you won’t go hungry.
Campagnola Emilia is about 25 kilometers from Reggio Emilia in the Po River Valley. The Emilia Romagna region of Italy is known for its many savory treats, meats, pastas and agricultural products. Campagnola is home to the church of Sant’Andrea, the oldest structure in the village built in the 11th century. The festivities start at 9am on Sunday and run into the night. Be sure not to miss the pork sausage in a continuous ribbon spanning an incredible 250 meters through the village.
Talk about a candy with an identity crisis, there are at least six countries with their own version of this sweet treat. All have the same basic ingredients of honey and egg whites, but depending on where you find it, it can be chewy or hard, nutty or fruity, or taken up a notch and dipped in chocolate. This weekend and next is San Marco dei Cavoti’s Festa Del Torrone e Croccantino.
San Marco dei Cavoti in the Benevento province of Campana, is one of Italy’s top production centers for this traditional Christmas treat. The area was originally settled in pre-Roman times and three of the gates built to fortify the town in the 1300’s still stand. Stands will be open serving varieties of this special treat throughout the festival. There are street performances, cooking demonstrations and if you’re there the night of the 6th you’ll get a special treat with a performance by the U2 tribute band Achtung Babies.
Valle di Maddaloni’s Festival of the Apple is in its 23rd year. About 19 miles northeast of Naples, in the Caserta province of the Campania region, Valle di Maddaloni celebrates this event as the start of their holiday season. The festival began today with a tour of the Aqueduct of Vanvitelli (also known as Aquedotto Carolino) built to carry water from Monte Taburno to the Palace in Caserta several miles away. Designed by Luigi Vanvitelli for Charles Bourbon, construction on the aqueduct started in March 1753 and finished 7 May 1762 when it opened. There is a perfectly preserved 1,736 foot section bridging the Valley of Maddaloni that was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997.
Both tomorrow and Sunday the food stalls open early and offer apples cooked in various ways available for sale: apple pies, apple fritters, liqueurs, sauces, jams and other savory treats. There are various farm tours including a tour of the orchards with education both on the process of the apple harvest, local food and organic crops. For entertainment there are dance, folklore and musical groups throughout the days and nights.