Ivrea is a small city near Turin in Italy. Every year during their Carnevale they have a unique festival that involves throwing oranges at other people. While it may sound like a zany way to get your orange juice there is a historical reason for the citrus mayhem.
The festival is a celebration of a local insurrection which occurred in 1194 against the then Holy Roman Emperor Frederick of Swabia. A local woman, Violetta, is said to have started the uprising which ended with the destruction of a local castle.
While it's unlikely that the insurrectionists were armed with fruit, every year thousands of crates of red oranges are brought into the centre of Ivrea and the fun begins. Horses pulling carriages trot into the centre (carrying people dressed as the soldiers of the tyrant) and battle ensues as they are pelted with thousands of oranges by the Ivrean townspeople (also dressed in medieval costumes).
If you don't want to become the target of an orange travelling at high speed you wear a red hat which means you are not participating and can pass unharmed. There are also protective nets set around the main battle areas but you're still likely to be the object of collateral damage from flying pulp.
If you're not wearing a red hat you can join the mayhem and start firing oranges at the soldiers who will respond in kind. The sight of thousands of crushed oranges in the narrow streets is a surreal image and snowplows are needed to clear the way from time to time. The festival is very unique and has a certain crazy spirit; people who have been say it is an unforgettable experience as well as a lot of fun.
Photo by Montanaro Maurizio™ on flickr
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