Venice on the clothesline
Venice on the clothesline does not have its own chapter in the guidebooks, but to me it ranges among the major attractions of the lagoon city.
Ask any Italian housewife and she will tell you that mechanical driers are a menace designed to ruin the fabric of your clothes. Even the spin in the washing machine should be avoided which explains why the RPM of my Danish washing machine is double as fast my Italian washer.
From an Italian point of view laundry should be washed at high temperatures with lots of detergent and hung outside to air and dry. The laundry is not a statement against global warming, but a sign of good housekeeping, which is all very well when you don’t need to worry about a cold, rainy climate.
Tell-tale signs of family status
To me the outdoor clotheslines have become a symbol of Italy. Especially old cities like Naples and Venice where colourful garlands of socks and shirt sleeves crisscross the narrow alleys or ‘calle’ that mark the paved back entrance of the houses, while the front door face the canals. Along house fronts strands of laundry connect the windows belonging to one apartment allowing a glimpse of the tenants’ private life to be visible in public. It is not hard to deduct age, family size and social status from the items on a clothesline.
That makes clothesline studies so highly entertaining and recommendable as one of the characteristic and free Venice sights.