Oranges Oranges by occhiobliquo, on Flickr

In Spain they throw tomatoes, in Italy its oranges!

You may have heard of La Tomatina, the famous Spanish tomato fight, but during the ancient Italian Carnival of Ivrea, in Piedmont, they throw oranges!

Its not such a free for all as La Tomatina in that there are two opposing teams rather than the every man for himself approach. The “bad guys” are in carriages symbolising the guards of an evil tyrant who ruled the town in the middle ages, and they battle against teams of orange throwers on foot representing rebellious commoners. There are nine foot teams, one from each city district. Everyone can join in but you must pick a side and join a team.

The battle of the oranges has its origins in the middle ages when the tyrannical feudal lord, Raineri di Biandrate (who apparently gave himself the right to sleep with any bride on her wedding night), gave a pot of beans to the poor families who threw them into the streets in disgust. Eventually the beans were replaced by oranges that were thrown from balconies by adoring girls at any boy they fancied who happened to be passing by. The boys naturally returned fire and the battle began.

The Carnival takes place in the city squares – Piazaa Ottinetti, Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele, Piazza del Rondolino, Il Borghetto, and the Centro Storico.

Official Storico Carnevale di Ivrea website

When is the Battle of the Oranges?

The battle takes place on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before Mardis Gras (Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday). In 2011 this is from March 5th to 7th. In 2012 the orange fight will be from 18th to 20th February.

The town is in the province in Turin in the northwestern part of the country. The nearest airport to Ivrea is the Aeroporto Internazionale Sandro Pertini in Turin Caselle. It is 16 km from the City of Turin and about 40 km from Ivrea.

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During the carnival regional specialities are served in the streets – particularly fagioli grassi (fat beans). These are huge pots of beans, boiled with sausages and pork rind which are served free. Other specialities include cod with polenta, and delicious carnival pastries. Drink Italian wines such as white Erbaluce, sparkling Barbera and sweet Passito di Caluso.

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