Battle of the Oranges

Ivrea is a town in the Piedmont province of northern Italy. It is known for its local carnival organized in February.

The main part of the carnival is the famous Battle of the Oranges (La battaglia delle arance). The Battle includes nine teams who throw oranges at each other during three carnival days – Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. In 2013 the event will start on the 10th of February.

Battle of the Oranges
Battle of the Oranges

The teams participating in the battle are the Chessmen, Arduini, Ace of Spades, Death, Tuchini, Devils, Mercenaries, Panthers and Credenari. Being from Croatia it is understandable that I'll tell few details about the Tuchini team. Why? Well, this team, from part of Ivrea called the Borghetto, has a raven as symbol. The raven symbolizes Croatia. In the past there were quite many Croats living in Ivrea.

Oranges were not always used in the battle. In the middle ages people used beans. Twice a year the local feudal lord gave a pot of beans to the poor families who, as sign of rebellion, threw them out of their homes. Later beans became part of carnival as sort of ammunition for throwing at people passing by.

It is still not known why exactly people started using oranges. It is believed that the origin for this tradition is in the mid 19th century. The legend says that local girls, standing on balconies, started to throw some oranges, together with with confetti, lupins and flowers, onto the parade carriages. The girls actually wanted to draw attention of boys in the carriages. Boys „answered“ by throwing some objects back at girls. Little battle started that way.

Battle of the Oranges got strict rules after the World war 2. The battles are organized on town's squares (Piazza Ottinetti, Piazza di Cittŕ, Piazza del Rondolino and Piazza Freguglia). The battles are fought between teams in carriages (symbolizing local the guards of local tyrant) and the teams walking beside those carriages (symbolizing rebellious people of Ivrea).

Oranges for the event are brought from the island of Sicily. The oranges used are of low quality, not suitable of humans. About 270,000 kilograms of oranges are used each year.

The carnival ends with a silent march on the night of „Fat Tuesday“. The Carnival "general" says goodbye to everyone with the phrase "See you next Fat Thursday at 1 p.m."

Special prizes are awarded to three best foot teams, three carriages drawn by two horses and three carriages drawn by four horses. Different elements are judged like for example throwing ability, fair play or decoration of carriages.