Battle of the Oranges: Italy's Ivrea transformed into carnival town
Updated 22:49, 06-Mar-2019
By Michal Bardavid
01:20

The Battle of the Oranges may be one of the most unique festivals in Italy – though at first glance it resembles a massive food fight. There is much meaning and history behind the carnival that takes place in the Italian town of Ivrea. 

The festival is celebrated over three days – an exhausting but fun experience for many. By the end of each day, streets are covered with orange puree and a fresh citrus smell fills the air.

The festival is a reenactment of a civil war, a rebellion that took place in the Middle Ages. The city was liberated from tyranny as people called for self-rule. The orange throwers riding on chariots represent soldiers and the oranges symbolically depict arrows. 

People join in the carnival parade during the festival, March 3, 2019. /CGTN Photo

People join in the carnival parade during the festival, March 3, 2019. /CGTN Photo

People on the street are those rising up against them. Before all the fighting begins, a traditional parade takes place with a beautiful lady at the center who starts the festivities. She is known as the Beautiful Miller's Daughter “Violetta” and she is the symbolic heroine of the battle. 

Legend has it that Violetta declined a request to be with the Marquess of Monferrato and killed him with his own sword. Thus began the uprising and the story that over the years transformed into a national festival.

View of the Battle of the Oranges Festival on streets, March 3, 2019. /CGTN Photo

View of the Battle of the Oranges Festival on streets, March 3, 2019. /CGTN Photo

During the festival, groups are divided into teams and each chariot of so-called “soldiers” tour all the squares as the people try to protect themselves.

It's important to note that not everyone fights. Many visitors are there for the fun of the spectacle and enjoy being part of the festival. Those who don't want to get hit wear red hats which also symbolize the solidarity with the uprising. 

Numerous orange throwers are seen on the streets, March 3, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Numerous orange throwers are seen on the streets, March 3, 2019. /CGTN Photo

Nevertheless, if you are in the square – getting hit by orange is always a possibility! Some participants from Ivrea say, for them, the battle represents passion, desire and historical re-enactment while another points out that even when you get hit, “it gives you the adrenaline to continue."

The fighting each day takes about two and a half hours during which oranges are constantly flying in the air. And at the end of the day, all is merry, everyone hugs each other and have a drink together to celebrate a great battle.