The Battle of the Oranges in the Turin Province celebrates the beheading of Ivrea's lord by a miller's daughter, in a ferocious fight of flying fruit.
- When? TBC Feb 2018
- Where? Ivrea, Turin Province, Italy.
- Price: Free
Celebrating freedom never tasted so good. The weapon of choice in Italy's largest food fight is the orange. Hand sized, relatively light and explosive on impact, it's no wonder the people of Ivrea pelt each other with this lethal fruit at their annual Battle of the Oranges.
Every year, the town of Ivrea celebrates its freedom with a massive fruit war in remembrance of a historic battle between the town's people and a ruling tyrant. It is said that back in the middle ages, the daughter of a miller chopped off the lord's head after he attempted to rape her exercising his 'droit du seigneur'. Setting the town free, the brave woman's actions proved the catalyst for battle between commoners and the emperor's men who roamed the streets in horse-drawn carts.
Symbolising the lord's men back in the middle ages, heavily armoured throwers ride on horse-drawn open wagons, fighting off the thousands on the ground wearing their sporting uniforms. Foreigners can join a team for a fairly hefty fee, otherwise you can stand with the 100,000 spectators for free. Some however, decide to rebel against the rules and unofficially enter the battle zone to join the orange warfare. After all, this is supposed to celebrate a rebellion of the people right?
The legend is fundamental to how Battle of the Oranges is structured, and to some locals, this is no friendly food fight. Around 500,000 kilograms of oranges are used creating such a mess that snow-removal equipment is needed in narrow streets. The old bridge in particular is an area where the fruit-fuelled war zone of Ivrea is at its most orange.
Although wearing a red cap or head wrap is supposed to make you immune to direct hits, if you're on foot in the town's square at Battle of the Oranges, it's worth noting that you're still vulnerable to a flying orange. With that in mind, it might be best to stand behind the safety nets if you don't want to risk an orange sized bruise or two. Although serious injuries are rare, some locals can get overly competitive and precautionary first-aid tents are dotted around with the safety of participants always in mind.
Serious business aside, Battle of the Oranges is ultimately a fun and liberating event to the people of Ivrea which marks an important occasion in their history. But when you're on the receiving end of a fruity missile, freedom might not feel as good as it tastes.
- Get there: Fly to Turin then hire a car and drive to Ivrea.
- Stay: Book accommodation in Ivrea, or travel from Turin if you'd prefer.
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