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.
Historical Carnival of Ivrea – Information
Historical Carnival of Ivrea – Full Program
Battle Aftermath – Sebastiano Rossi via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Orange Throwers (Left) – Sebastiano Rossi via Foter.com / CC BY-ND
Orange Throwers (Right) – pigliapost via Foter.com / CC BY-SA
Sbandieratori (Flag Throwers)- Giò-S.p.o.t.s. via Foter.com / CC BY
Castello di Ivrea – Galli Luca via Foter.com / CC BY