The Carnival of Ivrea, otherwise known as the ‘Battle of the Oranges’, is one of the most popular mass food fights in the world. The event is hosted in the town of Ivrea once a year and has been making a fruity mess on the town’s streets for centuries!
The festival’s origin has been lost in time with multiple moments in history shaping the tradition. Over the years, it has become a symbol of defiance in the face of oppression, stemming from stories of revolt in the 12th century as well as the notorious Napoleonic Wars which followed seven centuries later.
The game involves squads of aranceri (orange throwers) defending piazzas by throwing oranges towards the opposing troops wearing appropriate protective gear. The troops of the opposing team will typically ride through the town on horse-drawn cart wearing outfits resembling ancient armour.
Although the game may sound like concern for safety, participants follow an unwritten gentleman’s code, considering the game as a genuine sport and respecting one another as opponents. The skill in the game is based on accuracy as opposed to the strength of the throws. It is commonplace to end each battle with a handshake.
The carnival is much more than just a mass food fight. Throughout the day, sweets and treats are given out to spectators and participants alike. Traditional carnival processions take place with floats and bands taking to the streets from all over Italy and Europe to join in the fun!