The artistry of the Italian clothesline

by Rebecca Bricker on January 25, 2012

Italian ClotheslineIn Italy, hanging wash on a clothesline is an acquired skill. It can be a high-wire act that requires engineering, dexterity and certainly reliable clothespins. If done well, it actually can be an art form.

Italian Clothesline

Almost every apartment I looked at in Florence had a washer, but NONE had a dryer. I rented an apartment in a modern building that had a metal drying rack on the balcony – a great concept, except that on a windy day, bras and panties could easily take flight. (Yes, that’s a bra – not mine – that landed on a railing across the street from me.) I prudently moved my drying rack indoors.

The authentic Italian way to dry your laundry is to hang it out the window. The more advanced drying systems operate with lines, on pulleys, that run along the outside wall of the building and connect from one window to the next.

Italian Clothesline








And if you’re friendly with your neighbor across the street, there’s another method that defies gravity and modesty – but it’s a great way to dry your sheets.

Laundry day in Venice

~Clothesline as high art, Venice


Kathleen Pooler January 26, 2012 at 6:25 am

Delightful, Rebecca! Leave it to a writer ( actually author) to see the art in the mundane. This is another colorful glimpse into your Italian journey. Love it!

Sarah McKee January 26, 2012 at 1:42 pm

This is really funny!

Kathy January 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I love this post! You bring up great memories and good laughter.
Grazie Mille.

Pat January 28, 2012 at 4:43 am

Loved this! Reminded me of when we lived in Paris and we were allowed to hang clothes on one side of the apartment (the courtyard) and not the other (the street). In Switzerland, my visitors ask to help hang laundry outside because of the great view of Mt. Blanc.

Colleen Davis March 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Shopping list for Italy:

Mary Jane Cryan March 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

You might also like my vintage article written in 1979

Rebecca Bricker March 24, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Thank you, Mary Jane, for sharing some historical perspective on the Italian methods of drying laundry, especially the challenges of the high-wire method!

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