Battle of the Oranges – Ivrea, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Battle of the Oranges

Ivrea, Italy

A 12th-century Italian skirmish gets reenacted with 500,000 pounds of flying citrus. 


Each year in the days preceding Fat Tuesday, townspeople of Ivrea divide up into nine different squads. Dressed in their battle attire, they make their way to certain streets of Ivrea that are designated for war. Over the course of the next three days leading up to the holiday, men, women and children hurl oranges at each other, attempting to “kill” the other teams.

Although the origins are historically unclear, most people know the tale of the evil marquis, who attempted to rape a young woman in the town, but was instead decapitated by the woman. In the aftermath of his death, the townspeople stormed his palace in revolt. It is this revolt, which is symbolized by the Battle of the Oranges every year.

To add a certain level of authenticity to the event, a young woman is chosen from the town to represent the miller’s daughter, who killed the marquis, and teams are divided up along common and royal lines. After the three days of carnage, one of the generals of the teams ends the war, and the event is followed by a massive funeral on Fat Tuesday.

The largest food fight in Italy - though not as large as Spain’s La Tomatina - during the battle over 500,000 pounds of oranges are destroyed during the battles. Many people leave “war” with cuts and bruises.

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December 29, 2011

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