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Battle of the Oranges: The Most Spectacular Event of Italy

Meghraj Dhabale Feb 9, 2019
The Battle of Oranges sounds funny, but behind it lies a noble cause of fighting for freedom, righteousness, and defying tyranny. This mock battle commemorates the victory of the poor citizens over the tyrant baron in the Italian town of Ivrea.

History of the Battle of Oranges

Italian folklore states that during Medieval times, in a town called Ivrea, a defiant girl Violetta (also known as Mugnaia), stood up to the town's tyrant baron Marquis Raineri di Biandrate and slayed him.
In the process, she also roused the people to fight against the tyranny of the baron. The people arose to the call and demolished the castle, thus liberating the town from the tyrannical baron.

The Celebration of Battle

Ever since the 1800s, the battle is remembered as a carnival. The miller's daughter is accompanied by a Napoleonic General, his guards who ensure the event goes smoothly. Today, these characters are played by townsfolk in regal costume.

Why Beans Were Replaced by Oranges

According to local folklore, the baron starved the locals as he used to give the poor only a couple of pots of beans a year.
To revoke this treatment, earlier the battle was waged using beans, but since the mid 19th century, oranges have been used as it was considered an exotic fruit. Traditionally, single girls throw oranges to attract the boy they have a crush on among the battle parade.
The Battle of Oranges is held for three days, Sunday afternoon to Shrove Tuesday (47th day before Easter Sunday). as 9 teams take part, the battle lasts for three days, which uses abound 500,000 kilograms of oranges. Timeouts are declared so that injured participants could be tended to, and the battle resumes after the next whistle.

Let the Battle Begin

The sounding of a whistle at 2 p.m. on Sunday signals the commencement of the battle. The protagonist or the miller's daughter Violetta along with rebels gather on the streets.
These rebels or people are divided into 9 teams namely Tuchini, Morte, Picche, Scacchi, Pantere, Credendari, Arduini, Mercenaries, and Diavoli. And their opponents (The Guards) - 1000 people wearing leather masks and padding stand on 50 carts carrying throwers to fight the rebels.
The battle is carried out gently and safely for spectators by draping nets on the sides of the streets. Sporting spirit is practiced rather than fighting spirit. Throwing as hard as possible depicts respect towards each other. The battle ends on Tuesday evening, with a handshake between the rebels and the guards that reinstates friendship between them.