Ivrea is a small town, about 40 minutes north of Turin, Italy. It is usually a very quiet place, but once a year, during the exiting Orange Battle Carnival, it comes to life. The battle is an allegoric representation of a medieval insurrection dating back to 1194.It is told that a miller choose Violetta, another miller’s pretty woman, for his wife. But the Count of the land, Ranieri, reserved for himself the right to the first round with any local woman who was about to be married. People decided to defend Violetta: on foot and armed only with stones, they launched themselves against the court troops.
Remembering this folk history, once a year for three consecutive days, teams of masked, armored men throw 400,000 kg of oranges at the crowd who in turn throw them back at them, until the streets are covered by a carpet of squashed oranges that is sometimes even 30 cm thick. The event begins on Saturday evening with a costumed parade, resplendent with fireworks, torch lights, drums, flags and a band. The mill’s daughter is “presented” to the town and, after that, the orange battle begins.
On battle day, you will be immediately inebriated by the smell of thousands of red juicy oranges, mixed with the deep aroma of “Vin Brulé”, hot red and spicy wine. Violetta passes on a carriage and throws yellow flowers and candies at the crowd.
The first thing you will notice is that crowd wears a red hat. Red hats symbolize freedom: they were worn, in ancient Rome, by emancipated slaves and finally became one of the symbols of the French Revolution. When you walk around with a red hat in Ivrea, it means you won’t be throwing oranges and therefore no one will throw oranges directly at you.
If you don’t want to be just a spectator but you desire to get into the crazy spirit of the festival, you have to remove your red hat, reach the battle zones and launch oranges against the carriages with the representative of the Emperor.