Battle of the Oranges
The Ivrea Festival takes place annually in the town of Ivrea, Italy.
 
The festival lasts 6 days, always starting at one o'clock on the Thursday before Shrove Tuesday.
 
The highlight of the festival is the 'Battle of the Oranges'; an old tradition where the local people of Ivrea seperate into 9 teams and have a massive food fight using nothing but oranges.
 
This tradition is thought to have come from a fable about one of the Ranieri family. It is alleged that the city was once ruled by a cruel tyrant (one of the family), who would exercise the 'droit du seigneur', meaning he was entitled to sleep with every woman in the town on the eve of their wedding day.
 
He allegedly attempted to force himself on a miller's daughter in this manner but was met with hostility as she decapitated him. This led to the townsfolk burning down the family's palace. Each year a young girl is chosen to play the part of the defiant young woman.
 
Artificial chariots full of armour clad men charge through the fruit battleground representing the Ranieri family. These are pummelled with oranges by everyone involved.
 
The festival traditionally ends with a funeral and a silent march, after which the 'General' who orchestrated the battle announces: "arvedse a giobia a ‘n bot" which translates as: "we'll see each other on Thursday at one" - referring to the next year's festival.
 
More information is available from the festival's website at:
www.storicocarnevaleivrea.it


 
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Photographs courtesy of: Archive of the Historical Carnival of Ivrea Foundation