Italian Laundry

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There's just something about seeing clothes hanging on a clothesline especially in Europe. It's a part of the culture there. When we were on our honeymoon in Italy back in the 90's we looked all over Rome for a lavandaria (laundramat in Italian) to wash our clothes. We asked everyone and no one could tell us. It seems there aren't any because they have their own system for getting clothes clean. They wash them by hand and hang them out in the sun. If they're lucky they might have some kind of clothes wringer like your grandmother or mother used before they became extinct. Sometimes you'll see clothes on a line from a balcony. If there is just a window or a small balcony they use the pulley system where a clothesline is shared between buildings. When their clothes are dry, they just pull on the line and bring in the sun dried clothes. And no need to haul a basket around or walk back and forth. It's common to see clothes hanging across streets from one building to the other. White bright sheets flapping in the breeze, colorful shirts and dresses waving back at onlookers as if they were alive. You can hardly take a picture without a peek at someone's clothes hanging from a window. In the image above, they used a cane pole to give their clothes more room. You can tell a lot about a household by their laundry. For instance, in this painting it looks like there are children of different ages, perhaps even an infant. The article of clothing on the far right looks like an apron that a grandmother might wear. Of course on any given day different articles of clothing could tell a different story such as a boys trousers or a man's striped shirt like the gondoliers wear. Next time you're wandering the streets of Europe and gazing at the balconies spilling over with flowers take a look at the laundry. It might give you a clue what kind of family lives there.

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