Battle of oranges unleashes Italy's Carnival spirit

Mon Feb 23, 2009 8:31am EST
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By Valentina Za

IVREA, Italy (Reuters Life!) - Once a year the reserved people of Italy's Piedmont region at the foot of the Alps follow the advice of an old Latin adage and go a bit mad.

Solid evidence that "Semel in anno licet insanire" is an edict the Piedmontese take seriously can be found on the streets of Ivrea -- a town near the northwestern city of Turin -- during the last three days of Carnival.

Teams dressed in brightly colored costumes wage a fierce orange-throwing battle that leave the cobbled streets of Ivrea covered in a thick carpet of mashed orange pulp.

Bystanders are encouraged to wear a red cap to avoid being targeted by the "aranceri" (orange-throwers).

But it might still be difficult to dodge the oranges altogether when hundreds are flying everywhere as aranceri on foot battle their rivals standing on carts drawn by horses.

Even when taking shelter behind the large fishing nets stretched in front of buildings, it is impossible for spectators to avoid getting splattered by pulp and juice.

Some 6,000 people are divided into nine teams. Participants range in age from young children to veterans like Basilio Mobolo, who threw his first oranges at age 11 in 1964.

Some enrol at an even younger age.   Continued...

<p>Participants launch oranges at rival teams during an annual Carnival battle in the northern Italian town of Ivrea February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Chris Helgren</p>