Throwing Oranges in Ivrea

I’m a sucker for Italy’s town festivals. The more original the sagra the better and there are few more original than the Battaglia delle Arance, Battle of the Oranges, in the northwest city of Ivrea. For three days culminating in Fat Tuesday (martedì grasso) Ivrea comes alive as the city splits into nine teams that violently pelt each other with oranges.

Horse-drawn carriages travel through town waging war along the way

Horse-drawn carriages travel through town waging war along the way

Battle is not hyperbole here, they really do battle. One look at the team names – Death, Ace of Spades, Black Panther (which its members say is “a symbol of hegemony and territorial conquest”), Devils, Mercenaries – makes clear that these people take their orange throwing seriously.

A singing tour guide shows the less violent side of Ivrea’s carnival.

Legend has it that several hundred years ago a miller’s daughter refused to spend her wedding night with the local duke, as the law required, and instead chopped off his head, which these days is represented by the oranges. This is one of those stories best told in pictures…

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