Once a year, at the base of the Italian Alps in the ancient Medieval town of Ivrea, a peculiar battle takes place commemorating what was once a 12th century skirmish where the malicious, tyrannical rulers were overthrown by the commoners.
Once a year, at the base of the Italian Alps in the ancient Medieval town of Ivrea, a peculiar battle takes place. Commemorating what was once a 12th century skirmish where the malicious, tyrannical rulers were overthrown by the commoners.
Image by: Pelos cantos do mundo
The battle exists between the revellers on carriages (representing of the tyrants’ guards) and thousands of townsfolk. They are divided into nine different combat teams. However, instead of swords and arrows, the battle is reenacted with 500,000 pounds of flying citrus… Ivrea Orange Battle Festival.
If you’re more into throwing tomatoes, maybe La Tomatina is your taste.
You’ve read it correctly: the town of Ivrea celebrates their liberation by throwing (with a considerable amount of ferocity) half a million pounds of oranges at each other, marking this novel event to be the largest food fight in all of Italy.
The Ivrea Orange Battle Festival will color the streets of Ivrea orange for 3 consecutive days, from February 13th-16th, 2021.
Participate In the Orange Battle Festival
Participants must wage with real zest, as they do get injured; it is not uncommon to see cheery black eyes and smiling swollen lips throughout the festivities.
By Stand The Orange Battle
For those not wishing to partake in the battle, but rather spectate, there are two options: to watch by hiding behind nets draped around the buildings (the safest option), or, for a more adventurous twist, one can brave the battle field and watch the chaos while being in the midst of it (with this option, the likelihood of being hit by an orange is extremely high).
The Ivrea Orange Festival Tradition
Although, it isn’t all a treacherous battle; the Mugnaia (the miller’s daughter), along with her cortège, ride around gifting sweets and presents to the spectators. Afterwards, the tradition continues throughout the streets with parading floats, and traveling musical and folkloristic groups.
The final day of the festival, Fat Tuesday, is marked by the burning of a scarlo, a pole covered in heather and juniper bushes, where everyone gathers to cheer loudly and hope that the scarlo burns as quickly as possible, for quick burning means good luck for the coming year.
Being the convergence of urban warfare and a massive food fight, The Ivrea Orange Festival may just be one of the most unique cultural festivities you ever experience.
Celebrate the end of winter, the rise of spring, and a beautiful Medieval town’s uproaring revolution by dressing up, taking a stance, throwing oranges, singing songs, enjoying delicious food, gathering around a fire, slipping on citrus covered streets, smiling too hard, and ultimately having the time of your life.
The Orange Festival in Ivrea celebrates rebellion against the tyrants from the 12th century by throwing oranges in a recreation of the rebellion.
Ivre Orange Festival Tips
1# Berretto Frigio Cap-Avoid Getting Hit
If you chose to observe, you are encouraged to purchase and wear a Berretto Frigio Cap- which is a red hat that marks you as a “revolutionary,” and should protect you from getting fruit purposefully hurled your way (although you still may get hit). You can ask the Ivreans where to get a cap.
As well, if you are wearing the Berretto Frigio, you are technically not allowed to throw oranges (fair game).
2# How To Battle
There are observers scattered throughout the festival over the 3 days who will, on Tuesday, award the three best teams based off of their bravery, accuracy, throwing ability, resiliency, and ability to follow the rules.
Therefore, if you chose to go into battle, do so boldly, work on your throwing arm, and do not hit the horses. Perhaps get into character: imagine you are actually in battle.
3# Consider The Orange. Dress Accordingly
What to Do
Aside from throwing oranges and watching the food war wage on, there are many other things to do and see in Ivrea.
For instance, there is a chocolate shop that is as creative and ingenuitive as it delicious, Nella Chocolate, where they even have high heel shoes made of chocolate!
You can take a walk down the Via Arduino and Palestro, which are the main shopping streets, or even check out one of Ivrea’s several museums, like that of the Art in Ivrea Civic Museum.
Where to Stay
After a day spent on the fruitful battlefield, you are going to want a nice, comfortable place to rest your head and wash the orange out of your hair.
For roughly $100 per night, there are beautiful hotels near the action, such as La Civetta
Since the oranges are rejects from the winter harvest in Sicily, they will be less than desirable to munch on.
Fear not! There are many great places to eat in this ancient town, and not to mention some spectacular cuisine found only in Ivrea, such as the Torta 900 – a delectably sweet chocolate cake whose recipe is a century old secret, and can only be purchased from the Balla Cake Shop.
La Mugnaia Restaurant
If you prefer a more savory meal, to offset all the sweet smell of citrus in the air, you can try some rare and exquisite Italian cuisine at La Mugnaia (fittingly named after the miller’s daughter, a town hero) such as their famous ravioli.
How to Get There
If you are flying into Italy, the closest airport is going to be Turin International. From there, you have a few options getting to Ivrea: either by train, bus, or car.
From Torino Porta Susa, you can take the Turin-Aosta line hourly for around $10 to get to Ivrea (takes about an hour).
As your cheapest option, you can take the bus leaving once every two hours from Fermata 10001 station in Turin to Fermata 11242 station in Ivrea for only $2 (takes about 2 hours).
Taking a taxi to Ivrea from Turin will cost you about $110.
However, if you are driving your own car or a rental from Turin, the gas is estimated at only $10 and you can easily get there by taking A5 to Strada Statale 565, and then taking exit Ivrea (takes about 45 minutes).
For Nav systems, type in Ivrea, Italy. or near the center of the town at Palazzo Civico Ivrea.
GPS coordinates: 45.4672,7.8762
A Wee Bit Of Ivrea Orange Festival History:
Legend has it that an evil duke, Guido III, once did a terrible job ruling Ivrea and was despised by the townsmen.
The evilness of Guido III once attempted to rape the the miller’s daughter (la “Mugnaia”), Violetta, and forced her into his castle. She valiantly refused his attempt by cutting off his head, which prompted riots of comrades on the streets and the destruction of his castle, resulting in a much-needed revolution.
The Ivrea Orange Festival is to commemorate this uprising of the citizens.
In the early years of the festival, beans were thrown instead of oranges (Battle of the Beans?), afterwhich they used apples (ouch).
Silly enough, no one knows for sure where the idea oranges came from. Some say they represent the stones that were thrown at the castle, while others rumor that they represent the removed testicles of the late tyrant.