The event, dating back to medieval times, sees teams dressed up in brightly coloured medieval costumes engaging in a fierce orange-throwing fight that leaves the cobbled streets covered in a thick carpet of mashed orange pulp.
According to a legend dating back to the 12th century, Violetta, the daughter of a local miller, was bound by feudal laws to spend her wedding night with the town’s evil lord. In order to save her honour for her betrothed she beheaded the nobleman and set Ivrea free from his tyranny.
In the 1930s local girls started to throw oranges along with flowers and confetti from their balconies onto the carnival parade carriages so that the boys would notice them. With time the gesture became first a duel and then a real food fight between the orange throwers, also known as ‘aranceri’, on the balconies and those in the streets.
The orange-throwing battle, with participants split into noblemen and commoners with the fruits representing the oppressor’s head, recalls the insurrection against the tyrant and was transformed into a spectacular event after the Second World War, representing the fight for liberty and the symbol of the Ivrea Carnival.
Every year some 500 tonnes of oranges are shipped from Sicily to the Piedmont region in order to provide weapons to the fruit-flinging warriors.