The orange throwing festival takes place in Ivrea, a town in North Italy. It is the largest food fight in Italy and the surrounding area. The origins of the festival are unclear but it is said that it symbolizes the revolt against the tyrannous Count Ranieri of Biandrate. Among his many vices was lust for young women and he allegedly deflowered the young brides on their wedding night.
Once young bride Violetta however decided that the Count had enough and when taken to his castle after her wedding, cut his head off with a dagger she had hidden in her dress. She then displayed the head to the crowd outside the castle who then attacked and burned the castle. Each year a young girl is chosen to play the role of Violetta.
The orange throwing festival is celebrated to commemorate the revolution brought about by the courageous Violetta. It is also said that in the middle 1800s, the girls used to throw oranges from the balconies at young men participating in annual carriage parade to get their attention. The young men responded by throwing oranges back at them. After World War-2, the orange throwing festival became an official celebration.
Every year three thousands participants are divided into nine teams to celebrate the orange throwing festival. The teams on foot are the revolutionaries and those on carriages symbolize the Count’s guards. The commencement of the festival is signaled by holding a child in the air.
Oranges are thrown at each other with considerable force and can actually hit one hard as during the cold February days the oranges become as tough as a ball. There is also a carriage pulled by four horses. The festival ends with general saying the words “arvedse a giobia a ‘n bot” (we will see each other on Thursday at one); which refers to the beginning of the festival next year.