On Shrove Tuesday (Feb–Mar) Ivrea’s quiet streets fill with costumed revelers pelting each other with sweet-smelling oranges.
This four-day carnival commemorates the townsfolk’s 12th-century struggle against a local tyrant. Those on foot represent the peasants; those on chariots the aristocracy.
Traditional fagioli grassi (beans and pork) is served to the participants.
Regarding the origins, a popular account has it that the battle commemorates the city’s defiance against the city’s tyrant, who is either a member of the Ranieri family or a conflation of the 12th-century Ranieri di Biandrate and the 13th-century Marquis William VII of Montferrat. This tyrant attempted to rape a young commoner (often specified as a miller’s daughter) on the evening of her wedding, supposedly exercising the droit du seigneur. The tyrant’s plan backfired when the young woman instead decapitated him, after which the populace stormed and burned the palace. Each year, a young girl is chosen to play the part of Violetta, the defiant young woman. Wikipedia