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Italy: Ivrea has ‘Battle of the Oranges’ festival

Italians in the northern city of Ivrea on February 11 had their annual ‘Battle of the Oranges’. The event, dating back to medieval times, sees teams dressed up in brightly coloured medieval costumes engaging in a fierce orange-throwing fight. Afterwards, the streets are left covered in a carpet of mashed orange pulp.

According to a legend dating back to the 12th century, local beauty Violetta was forced to spend her wedding night with the town’s evil lord. In order to save her honour for her betrothed she beheaded the nobleman and set Ivrea free from his tyranny.

A little more prosaically, in the 1930s local girls started to throw oranges, flowers and confetti from their balconies onto the carnival floats so the boys would notice them. With time the gesture became first a duel and then a real food fight between the orange throwers, also known as ‘aranceri’, on the balconies and those in the streets. recounts how the orange-throwing battle, with participants split into noblemen and commoners with the fruits representing the oppressor’s head, recalls the insurrection against the tyrant and was transformed into a spectacular event after the Second World War.

Every year some 500 tonnes of oranges are shipped from Sicily to the Piedmont region in order to provide weapons to these fruity warriors.

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