125 injured in Italy's Battle of the Oranges, part of a billion-euro carnival tourism industry
According to media reports, as many as 125 people were injured during the first of this year's Orange Battles. The event occurred on Sunday, February 11th, in the town of Ivrea in Piedmont, located in northern Italy.
Battle of the Oranges: A highlight of the Italian Carnival
The event drew a crowd of 35,000, including many international tourists. Medical attention was provided to battle participants who suffered various kinds of injuries; six people were taken to the emergency room, the battle was paused briefly to allow an ambulance to reach one of the injured.
The organizers reported that over 17,000 tickets were sold for spectators to watch the matches up close. The subsequent carnival skirmishes are scheduled for Monday, February 12th, and Tuesday, February 13th.
The tradition of this battle originates from the Middle Ages. Participants were divided into teams that hurled tons of citrus fruits at each other. Some participants wore protective helmets. Every year, the casualty count is significant.
The same scenario plays out every year, merging fun with force. It reenacts scenes from centuries ago when the ruler's army kidnapped the miller's daughter.
The streets and squares become filled with carts carrying the "ruler's defenders," who pelt oranges at the attacking throng and endure their retaliatory strikes.
Carnival tourism in Italy
Carnival tourism is booming in Italy and is projected to bring in one billion euros this year. Approximately 8 million individuals are expected to visit the most well-known carnival destinations, according to the National Federation of Tourism and Trade.
Among the most visited cities during this event is, of course, Venice. This year, the local carnival paid tribute to the figure of Venetian traveler Marco Polo on the 700th anniversary of his death.
Events in Cento and Comacchio in the Emilia-Romagna region, Fano in Marche, and Acireale in Sicily attract large crowds. In Putignano in Apulia, where they've been celebrating for 630 years, the carnival lasts for the longest—it started on December 26th.
Following the last day of the Carnival on February 13th, the famous parade in Viareggio in Tuscany will take place on Saturday, February 24th, featuring large, colorful carnival floats.