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.
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.
Truffles and wine are gems of the Piemonte region of Italy. From the end of September thru mid-November events are held in Alba to honor the White version of these prized tubers. This festival is in its 85th year and is jam-packed with events. If you’re looking for an experience combining food, wine and folklore, you will not be disappointed.
Alba is in the area of the Piemonte known as the Langhe; displays at the festival boast not only the excellent truffles and wine but the cheeses, egg pastas and sweets common to this area. During the festival there is a truffle market at Cortile della Maddalena each weekend where you can smell and buy truffles from reputable vendors. The truffles are hunted by dogs who smell and scratch just under the surface to alert their handlers to their find. Truffles are not cheap and are used in a variety of ways in the kitchen.
The Alba International Truffle Fair is as entertaining as it is tasty. Food and folklore events are scheduled each weekend to fill your belly and your spirit. The folklore events started September 26th with The Investiture of Podesta; participants in medieval costumes re-enacting tributes to the Lady of Alba and the Podesta (magistrate who governs the city). On October 4th the medieval theme continued with a donkey palio, the “Palio degli Asini”, run by the 9 districts of Alba in a traditional mock of Asti’s horse palio. This weekend each district will transport you back to medieval times with games and re-enactments staged throughout.
The highlight of the weekend is the “Baccanale del Tartufo”; each district uses the truffle theme to develop a delicious menu unique to them. Review the menu and pick which of the 9 districts whets your tastebuds and partake in a truffle themed dinner (the menu is posted below). To learn about the other events and tastings offered this weekend and though mid-November at the festival click on the link below and select “Calendar”. Mangia bene!