Clotheslines and Laundry in Italy

Laundry in Portofino

Some of my favorite scenes in Italy are those where the laundry is hanging on the line just outside the house. This is a way of life for most people in Italy and the visual really depicts the culture and lifestyle of Italians. Due to energy issues very few homes in Italy even have a clothes dryer so hanging the laundry outside is very commonplace.

Clotheslines in Italy

I love capturing the look in various towns and I even made two of these photos into greeting cards. Can you see why I always look forward to going back to Italy?

Clothesline in Venice
Laundry Hanging in Italy

Interestingly the town of Pavia which is in the Lombardia region of Italy not very far from Milan, recently banned hanging laundry from clotheslines which can be viewed from the street. I imagine those families have to dry their clothes inside. Somehow it doesn’t seem fair.

Clothesline in Burano
Portofino Clothesline
Laundry over a Venice Canal

11 Responses

  1. wil gan

    Have you any pictures of the clothes lines that go right across the street to the house opposite? There must be pulleys at the anchoring points on both sides. I don’t think these would be shared lines as it would be tricky to reel in your own clothes and not cause mayhem to your neighbour’s at the same time.
    I love these lines across the street when it is a whites wash – loads of white sheets and pillow cases.

    • margieinitaly

      I have seen these and probably do have some photos….

  2. Lynne Ayers

    On my trips to Ittaly I have noticed the same – one needs to have pretty unmentionables before hanging them out on the main street for all to see; and I’ve wondered if hanging them out in the big cities doesn’t just make them dirty again ..?

    • Bonnie D.

      In the 60’s I was in NYC playing in a band. I learned real fast to wear serious make-up as my face was filthy at the end of a day of site seeing. Better to put something between the air and my skin! I was so surprised at the dirt that was everywhere and was not surprised to find that living in NYC and breathing the air (we have a choice?) was the same as smoking a pack of cigs a day. I understand that during the 70’s and 80’s they did clean it up some. Hanging clothes out in Manhattan would be classified as street art I am sure! And yes, they would have been filthy when brought in. Especially if they brushed against the older buildings that were just black from soot or something. And still it was hard not to love NYC!

  3. imarancher

    What strikes me is that wandering about the hiways as well as the byways does not get one arrested for “casing the joint.” Around here someone on foot would generate a lot of interest. What a difference in cultures.

    Another difference in cultures is more one of age. Bet I could tell the approximate age of those hanging out clothes by the way they hang them. When my grandkids hang them it is any old which way. We hung them up by categories (towels, sheets, undies (on the inside line, PLEASE). Yes, we were as obcessive/compulsive about laundry as everything else. We even had rows of clotheslines in the garage for rainy days. The old ones really resisted dryers because, “What would the neighbors think?” But this is Florida and the summertime monsoons eventually convert most of us to dryers.

    A shame really. Glad it is alive and well in Italy but I bet the offer of a free dryer would make believers out of a lot of women who are holding down a home and a job.

I'm always interested in your thoughts, so please leave a comment.