In pictures: The battle of the oranges

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image sourceAndrea Capello

Once a year, in the run-up to Shrove Tuesday, the citizens of the old medieval town of Ivrea, in Italy, gather in the main square to hurl oranges at each other.

As the town prepares to celebrate once more, we look at the pictures by photographer Andrea Capello who documented the event last year.

The origin of the so-called Battle of the Oranges dates back to medieval times and is said to commemorate the day the townsfolk were liberated from the harsh rule of an evil duke.

The legend goes that the miller's daughter, Violetta, cut off the duke's head when he tried to claim his right to sleep with young brides on their wedding night. This led the town to rise up and burn down the duke's castle.

The battle represents the struggle between the supporters of the duke and those of Violetta.

image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionThe band of pipers and drummers leads the parades through the square.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionEach year, a married woman is chosen to play the part of Violetta.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionThe Battle of the Oranges is fought for three days leading up to Shrove Tuesday.
image source Andrea Capello
image captionThe throwers on carts head into the town square, battling against those on foot.
image sourceANDREA CAPELLO
image captionA member of the orange-thrower team of Tuchini del Borghetto shows passion and dedication to the cause.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionIt's a messy business with hits celebrated on both sides.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionBut after the battle there is a chance for those on both sides to enjoy tales of the fight.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionThere are injuries.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionSome are bloody but unbowed.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionMore than 700 tonnes of oranges are used during the battle.
image sourceAndrea Capello
image captionAfter the battle, everything is collected and taken to a recycling centre.

All photographs courtesy Andrea Capello.