This Italian Festival Is Actually One Big Food Fight

Perhaps it was the constant ridicule we heard from adults in our lives, pleading, "Don't play with your food!" that made the idea of a food fight sound just that much more appealing. While the concept of an edible battle may come across as messy, wasteful, and overall gross in practice, it has always managed to appear fun onscreen and in our imaginations. In Northern Italy, residents embrace their inner child with a food fight each year.

This Italian food fight, known as the Battle of the Oranges, is a three-day-long event in the spring that celebrates rich history and justice. In the quaint town of Ivrea just north of Turin, residents put their competitive nature to the test when pelting opposing teams with oranges, according to Atlas Obscura. Fighters split into nine different teams, suited up in full combat regalia, and let the games begin until the finale on Fat Tuesday. In those three days, the streets of Ivrea are practically neon with orange scraps and wholesome competition, and the event is considered the highlight of the Carnival of Ivrea held before Lent (via Storico Carnevale di Ivrea).

What prompted this acclaimed citrus battle?

This war of fruit is said to have originated in medieval times, when the townspeople of Ivrea had grown tired of being ruled by an evil duke, says BBC. The last straw was when the duke tried to assert his "right" to sleep with brides on their wedding night, inspiring a miller's daughter named Violetta to behead the ruler. This powerful act of belligerence served as a symbol of power and stirred the townspeople to storm the tyrant's palace after his demise. Ever since, this uprising has been commemorated each year during the Battle of the Oranges.

As the biggest food fight in all of Italy, the event certainly isn't for the faint of heart. More than 500,000 pounds of juicy oranges, according to Carnivaland, are pummeled at folks moving through Ivrea's center streets prepared for battle. The community of Ivrea welcomes new warriors with open arms, so if coming home with some citrus-induced bruises sounds thrilling, join in on the Battle of the Oranges one year. And if observing from a distance sounds more fun (and less painful), you can always watch the action from behind a safety net.