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Ivrea is a town and comune of the province of Turin in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italymarker. Situated on the road leading to the Aosta Valleymarker (part of the medieval Via Francigena), it straddles the Dora Balteamarker and is regarded as the centre of the Canavese area. Ivrea lies in a basin that, in prehistoric times, formed a great lake. Today a number of smaller lakes: Sirio, San Michele, etc. dot the area around the town.

During the 20th century its primary claim to fame was as the base of operations for Olivetti, a once well-known manufacturer of typewriters, mechanical calculators and, later, computers. The company no longer has an independent existence, though its name still appears as a registered trademark on office equipment manufactured by others. In 1970 about 90,000 people (including commuters from Southern Italy) lived and worked in the Ivrea Area. When Olivetti closed its operations the population dropped to 30% of its former level.


The town first appears in history as a cavalry station of the army of the Roman Empire, founded in 100 BC and set to guard one of the traditional invasion routes into northern Italy over the Alps. The Latin name of the town was Eporedia.After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Ivrea became seat of a duchy under the Lombards (6th-8th centuries).Alessandro Manzoni in his Adelchi, names one duke Guinigi of Ivrea, chosen by king Desiderius as defender of Paviamarker. Under the Franks (9th century), Ivrea was a county capital. In the year 1001, after a period of disputes with bishop Warmund, ruler of the city, Arduin conquered March of Ivrea. Later he became King of Italy and set a dynasty that lasted until the 11th century, when the city switched again to the bishops' suzerainty.The following century Ivrea became a free commune, but succumbed in the first decades of the 13th century. In 1238 Emperor Frederick II put it under his domains. Later Ivrea was disputed between the bishops, the marquis of Monferrato and the House of Savoy. In 1356 Ivrea was acquired by Amadeus VI of Savoy. With the exception of the brief French conquest at the end of the 16th century, Ivrea remained under Savoy until 1800: on May 26 of that year Napoleon Bonaparte entered the city along with his victorious troops, establishing control that ended in 1814 after his fall.

Main sights

The Cathedral of Ivrea.
The castle (14th century).
  • The Castle was built in bricks (1357) by Amadeus VI of Savoy, it has a quadrangular plan with four round towers at the vertexes. One of the tower, used as ammunition stores, was struck by a lightning in 1676 and exploded. It was never rebuilt. Once a prison, the castle is today a seat of exhibitions.
  • The Cathedral was probably erected in the 4th century AD over a Pagan temple. It was reconstructed around AD 1000 by Bishop Warmondus in Romanesque style: of that edifice the two bell towers, some columns and the elegant frescoed crypt remain. The latter houses an ancient Roman sarcophagus which, according to the tradition, preserved the relics of St. Bessus (co-patron of the city together with St. Sabinus). A substantially new edifice, in Baroque style, was built in 1785. The current neo-classical façade is from the 19th century. The main art piece of the interior is the Miraculous Resurrection of a Child (second half of 15th century), attributed to Nicolas Robert. The sacristy has two pales by Defendente Ferrari. The cathedral is also seat of the tomb of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy.
  • The Biblioteca Capitolare ("Capitular Library"), not far from the Cathedral, houses an important collection of codices from 7th-15th centuries.
  • The small Gothic church of San Bernardino was built by the Minorites starting from 1455. It houses a notable cycle portraying the Life and Passion of Christ by Giovanni Martino Spanzotti (1480-1490).
  • The Museum Pier Alessandro Garda has some interesting archaeological findings and a collection of Japanese art pieces. It is located on the large Piazza Ottinetti.
  • The Open Air Museum of Modern Architecture, inaugurated in 2001, is a show of the main edifices (some by leading architects of the time) built by Olivetti from the 1950s onwards.
  • The remains of a Roman theatre from the first century can be seen west of the city centre. It could hold 10.000 spectators.
  • The Old Bridge (Ponte Vecchio) dates back to AD 100 and leads over to Borghetto. Originally built on wood and was rebuilt in stone in 1716.
  • The Town Hall built in 1758 with a remarkable bell tower decorated with hemp plants, the symbol of Canavese.
  • St. Stephen Tower dates back to 11th century. This Romanesque bell tower is that that remain of St. Stephen Abbey built in 1041 for the Benedictine order. It is located between Hotel La Serra and Dora Balteamarker.


Ivrea today is best known for its peculiar traditional carnival. The core celebration is based on a locally famous Battle of the Oranges. This involves some thousands of townspeople, divided into nine combat teams, who throw oranges at each other - with considerable violence - during the traditional carnival days: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. The carnival takes place in February: it ends the night of "Fat Tuesday" with a solemn funeral. Traditionally, at the end of the silent march that closes the carnival the "General" says goodbye to everyone with the classical phrase "See you next Fat Thursday at 1 pm."

One of the citizens is elected Mugnaia. The legend has that a miller's daughter (a "Mugnaia") once refused to accept the "right" of the local duke to spend a night with each newly wed woman and chopped his head off. Today the carriages represent the duke's guard and the orange throwers the revolutionaries. Spectators are not allowed to throw oranges, but visitors are allowed to enlist in the teams. If they wear a red hat they are considered part of the revolutionaries and will not have oranges thrown at them.

Before oranges were thrown they used apples. Later, oranges came to represent the duke's chopped off head. The origin of the tradition to throw oranges is not well understood, particularly as oranges do not grow in the foothills of the Italian Alps and must be imported from Sicily. In 1994 an estimate of of oranges were brought to the city, mainly coming from the leftovers of the winter crop in southern Italy.

In 2000–2005 Ivrea was visible on the design circuit as the seat of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea ([43408]), located in the old Olivetti research building—the "Blue House" building. The school was moved to Milan in October 2005.

The town’s football club, U.S. Ivrea Calcio, currently plays in Serie C1.

Orange fighters clubs

Orange fighters clubs on horse carts

Twin towns

External links

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