Italy’s largest food fight takes place in the days preceding Fat Tuesday in the Northern Italian town of Ivrea, where its inhabitants are divided into nine different teams. The main object is to “kill” the other teams with oranges. Townspeople of all ages don their battle attire and take to the streets for the War of Oranges – 500,000 pounds (250 tons) in fact. Certain streets are designated for the war but its possible to get hit almost anywhere by a stray flying piece of citrus.
The origins of the battle are unconfirmed but legend has it that it is a memorial to the slaying of an evil marquis (this is a nobleman ranking above a count and below a duke in some European countries) who attempted to rape a young woman in the town, but was instead beheaded by her. The slaying of the royal jerk triggered an all out revolt by the townspeople of Ivrea. In an effort to commemorate the revolt, a young woman is chosen to represent the heroine, and the teams are representative of the royal and common lines. After the three day battle, the leading team can end the war and a huge funeral is held on Fat Tuesday for those “killed” by citrus.
The Battle of Oranges is not quite as big or well known as Spain’s La Tomatina just yet, but would probably pass it up if there is ever a Tomato blight epidemic in Spain.