The battle of the oranges

Since 1808 Ivrea near Turin has celebrated the carnival with a spectacular battle of oranges as a symbol of public rebellion against oppression.

The battle of the oranges is repeated for three days in connection with carnival parades starting Sunday 19, 2012. It takes place in the town square, where nine teams of ‘aranceri’ shooters on foot will hurl oranges at the symbolic guards of the tyrant riding horse drawn carriages. The ‘aranceri’ on foot are voluntary and unorganized members of the public, though some can be recognized on bells tinkling around their ankles, while the target ‘aranceri’ represent various neighbourhoods and they are equipped with helmets, face guards and padded suits to protect them from the assault. Over three days, 3600 tons of oranges are thrown and some hit the mark when they smash in the faces of an opponent, so the juice gets in their eyes.

Shrove Tuesday at the end of the carnival, all neighbourhood carriages are rewarded with a ranking that evaluates range, accuracy and ability to guide horses and wagons. At the same time a carriage covered in heather and juniper is burned as a sign of good luck.

‘La Battaglia delle Arance’ in Ivrea is a bit like the Palio of Siena and a great show for tourists, although it should be followed with some care. If you do not want to be attacked by ‘arancieri’, you should put on a red Phrygian cap as a sign of neutrality and try to keep your distance. Otherwise there is a risk of getting hit, and oranges can cause a rather heavy blow.

Top photo by Giò-S.p.o.t.s. on Creative Commons

See also Battle of the Oranges in north Italy – in pictures

Vis Ivrea på et større kort

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