Ivrea-Italy: a passionate orange carnival!

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The historical carnival of Ivrea (Ivrée in French) is an event that takes place in the Piedmontese town located in northern Italy, between Turin and Aosta, which includes a great food fight; namely, a tradition of throwing oranges between organized groups.

What is the confrontation?

The intense battle takes place during the last three “fat” days of the carnival and brings together thousands of people divided into nine teams of orange throwers and a battalion of horse-drawn chariots representing the army of the aristocracy.

The 51 chariots are divided into 35 pairs and 16 quadrilles, which gather at 1 p.m. sharp in the central square, before the start of the battle. They circulate in the streets, alternating and giving rise to fights against the teams on foot.

More than 600 tons of oranges are thrown during the festival; it should be pointed out that these fruits are not suitable for commercial purposes, and therefore are not a waste.

The horses are considered the main stars of the event and treated with great respect.

Where does this tradition come from?

This carnival is above all an allegory and has its origins in the 12th century. It is about a revolt against tyranny led by the heroic character of Violetta, the miller’s daughter who refused the advances of the local lord claiming her droit de seigneur. She killed the despot, thus giving the signal for a popular riot.

Centuries later, when the landowners were no longer noble but simply wealthier than the peasants, another historic revolt took place when the people refused to accept the sacks of beans granted to them out of sheer pity. The beans were used as projectiles and the peasants strafed the arrogant tyrants.

The battle is a show of pride… in remembrance of bitter oranges!

The goal is simply to hit opponents as hard as possible with the oranges and knock them out of the game as the parade passes through the oldest part of town. Then the judges must choose a winner at the end of the third day.

Those who do not want to participate must put on a red Phrygian cap symbol of freedom, and stay safe behind fences that are erected all along the parade route. Otherwise, they would immediately be seen as enemies, thus becoming potential targets.

After two years of absence due to the pandemic, the start of the 2023 festival is scheduled for Sunday February 19 and, for non-residents, the entrance ticket to the city has a cost of 15€.


Catherine Mills Avatar