Europe's obsession with food-throwing festivals is well known. There is of course the famous La Tomatina in Spain where contenders pelt each other with tomatoes and now Italy's Battaglia delle Arance where rotten oranges are the ammunition of choice.
Celebrated annually in early March in the small Italian town of Ivrea, the origins of the unusual battle are a little hazy. Some believe that it is a reenactment of a 12th century battle that began when a tyrant leader was ousted and decapitated by a local resident. In order to protect her, the townspeople used stones, slingshots and other weapons to drive the soldiers away. Others think it stems from a 19th century uprising in which commoners threw away food to protest the rule of a feudal lord.
No matter what the origin, the three-day long Battaglia delle Arance is a highly anticipated event today. Preparations begin about a week prior to the festival when 500,000 kilograms of rotten oranges are shipped in from Sicily. On the eve of the event, participants are divided into various 'army' units including one that comprises of armor-wearing guards to represent the soldiers.
The soldiers get to toss the fruit off horse drawn carriages, while the commoners pelt it from the ground. In order to ensure that everyone gets a chance, each set of teams is allowed to 'battle' only one of the three days. And while it may appear dangerous, officials maintain that the biggest injury a participant has ever suffered, is a black eye.
A team of impartial judges pick the winner of the battle based on their orange throwing skills, the distinctness of their uniforms and most importantly, how successful they are in avoiding the poor horses that get caught in the sticky battle.
Those that are not up for the battle are advised to sit on the sidelines wearing red hats so they don't get pelted by mistake. While this could get a little boring for some, it works for those that have no desire to turn into orange pulp or the need to receive their vitamin C boost in such large doses! After the battle is over, all participants and spectators gather at a central location to pay their respects to the 'dead' and 'bruised'.
Resources: huffingtonpost.com, telegraph.co.uk, wikipedia.org