Do you love dodgeball with a burning passion? Then you may also love Ivrea, Italy’s wildly dangerous Battle of The Oranges Festival, which is wrapping up right now. But if you’re terrified of hard objects flying directly towards your face (Like me! Look, I’m not a lady who loves balls whacking her in the face, I said it!), you may want to sit this one out.
The Carnival Festival — celebrated for three days just before the start of Lent — has a rather violent (although pretty awesome) backstory. The popular tale is of a beautiful miller’s daughter, Violetta, who, on the eve of her wedding, was visited by the tyrant, the Marquis Raineri di Buandrate. The Marquis planned to rape her using his droit du seigneur (right to take the virginity of his female subjects — which they rarely mention at your local Medieval Times). However, Violetta was more the kind of “bride” from Kill Bill than the helpless girl he thought she would be. She hid a dagger on her person, and when alone with the Marquis chopped off his head and brought it back triumphantly to the people.
The citizens of Ivrea, emboldened by her act of defiance and bravery, rose up, stormed the castle and burned it to the ground — vowing to never allow tyranny to rule them again.
The festival pays tribute to the revolution with nine teams of townspeople forming to fight the tyrannical rulers (represented by armored knights riding in carriages that move through the streets). They’ve just swapped out the weapons to fight with oranges (which I fully consider a weapon — an orange thrown at you by a full grown adult would HURT). And although I would be curled up in a fetal position if I was at this street festival, it looks like all involved have a ton of messy fun (multiple bruises and all). It also makes those Tomatina-fest loving Spaniards look like big softies.
Check out the photos of this year’s festivities below!