Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ivrea is a small town, with a population of slightly over 20,000 people, located in the Piemonte region of northwestern Italy. Through 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.
The town first appears in history as a cavalry station of the army of the Roman Empire, set to guard one of the traditional invasion routes into northern Italy over the Alps. The Latin name of the town, "Eporedia," has long since vanished into the mists of time, but still appears as the root of the name of the town residents, who are known as "eporediesi" in Italian and as "Eporedians" in English.
Though the town has played an interesting subsidiary role in Italian history, it is today best known for its peculiar traditional carnival, whose core celebration is based on a locally famous "battle of the oranges." This involves some thousands of townspeople, divided into combat teams, who throw oranges at each other - with considerable violence - in rather disorganized battles lasting over several days. The origin of this tradition is not well understood, particularly as oranges do not grow in the foothills of the Italian Alps and must be imported from the South of Italy at considerable cost.
A modern development has solidly established Ivrea on the design circuit with the arrival of the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, located in the old Olivetti research building -- the "blue" building. Although a small school, it has attracted international prominence because of the stellar reputation of its faculty and high-quality students. Both students and faculty are eclectic, mostly from outside of Italy. See their website: http://www.interaction-ivrea.it
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