♥ My Homage to Laundry Day Italian Style ♥

♥ Indelible Memories: My Homage to Laundry Day Italian Style ♥ has been a long time coming! Hundreds of photos taken over several years from north to south…of laundry! And I predict there will be many more! Why? Read on…

Let's Go to Italy Together!

♥ One of the many things I miss about being in Italy, in addition to hearing church bells chiming and Italian conversation, walking by tempting gelaterie and stopping in for an espresso (usually brewed by a pretty good looking barista)…

♥ The list does go on and on but certainly when I see laundry hanging on drying racks and makeshift clothes lines on balconies, outside windows, across alleys and, well, just about anywhere, I know I’m in Italy!

Photo - Victoria De Maio

Why is something so seemingly ordinary and mundane so utterly irresistible and charming to me? I have to attribute it to my own indelible childhood memories and the fact that, not only do I absolutely know that I am in Italy but, it’s a tie to my roots and upbringing…

Let's Go to Italy Together!

 ♥You see, my mother hand washed our laundry almost all of her life. In a large tub in the porch with strong hands she kneaded, washed, rinsed, rung out and hung it on the clothesline.

♥ I still have vivid memories of the ritual as she turned the clothesline (you know, the one that looked like an inverted umbrella that spun around on a metal pole), grabbed clothes pins and deftly hung everything out in the sunshine.

♥ All of our clothes, sheets, towels, etc. were hung out. As soon as they were dry or it looked like rain, she or my Dad would dash out to bring it in. (I remember occasions when outings were cut short to get home and get the laundry inside!)

♥ Everything smelled like clean sunshine. You just can’t duplicate that smell with any soap or detergent.

♥ I wish I had a photo but who knew that something so routine and part of my day-to-day childhood would become a precious memory and a connection to my heart’s home?

Let's Go to Italy Together! As I saunter the streets and passageways of every Italian town and village, my eye is always caught by the washing…hanging here and there, basking in the sunshine, telling their stories.

♥ Waving unconsciously for all to see, everything from undies and overalls to dish towels and diapers, jeans and jerseys, socks and shirts…and of every size, color, and style imaginable are on display. Some faded and well worn, some bright and brand new but all revealing a little about who lives inside; gender, size, age and even their livelihood and pastimes. All in public and subject to speculation –no secrets here!

♥ Fluttering freely in the fresh air and seemingly without a care…caressed by Mother Nature, everything from slacks to sheets flap gaily in the gentle breezes. Whether they’re pinned upside down or right side up, they’re obviously not afraid of heights and obviously enjoy the best views!

♥ Basking shamelessly in the warm sunlight, stretching out, dangling and dancing  before going back in the closet or drawer, ready for the next call of duty.

Let's Go to Italy Together!♥ I always have slightly mixed feelings about taking photos of other people’s laundry. It’s a little like peeking into someone’s closets or drawers. Sometimes I take them surreptitiously or hurriedly so as not to invade someone’s privacy but then again, the laundry is hanging out in public? Maybe, but their “public” is their neighborhood so it’s pretty routine. I mean, I wouldn’t have wanted someone taking photos of my family clothesline, would I? Hmmm…

Well, I find it just too tempting. Stories and imaginings can’t be repressed. I can’t help but think that, what I find delightful and engaging is just another tedious, tiring chore to someone else. Were they washed by hand or by machine? Were they washed with love, in haste, begrudgingly or just because it had to get done? Were they carefully clothes pinned or just hung by habit?

Let's Go to Italy Together!When I travel I’m often asked how I do my laundry while on the road—well, I do it by hand! And somehow from watching my Mother, something was learned about soaking, kneading, rinsing, ringing and hanging my own washing to dry…and I have to wonder what story someone else would write about my laundry? (Sorry no photos!)

♥ So, in honor of and as a homage to my own Mother and only with respect and praise for those whose laundry appears here, I thank you for being my muse. ♥

Let's Go to Italy Together!

Send Me a Postcard!Won’t you Send Me a Postcard? (No, not your laundry!)

Do you have a favorite photo? What story would you tell about it? What does your laundry say about you?

Please share below!


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About PostcardZ from Victoria

Wish you were here! I love sharing my passion for travel and insights I've learned along the way. Enjoy my travel tips and inspiration with a lighthearted twist! Join me as we create a forum for sharing experiences and information! Enjoy my newly updated & edited book, "Victoria's Travel TipZ Italian Style!" with MORE great TipZ and then, let's go to Italy together!
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16 Responses to ♥ My Homage to Laundry Day Italian Style ♥

  1. Terri says:

    I have numerous photos of clean, crisp laundry in Italy as well. It remains such a heartwarming sight for me, confirming I’ve returned to Italy. It crosses economic lines, being found on expensive homes and modest apartment dwellings. I’ve also wondered about my relief in seeing the laundry is still be hung each visit, and can only assume (for me) it’s a sign of a slower pace of life, and Italy has not been caught up in the mad dash the rest of us find ourselves in.
    Thank you for today’s post! :)

  2. Terri,
    Thank you for sharing as well. For some reason it’s a lovely connection and I agree, it does cross economic lines. I think it may be more a question of practicality, tradition and the cost of electricity to run a dryer but, I’ll go with the sign of a slower pace of life, too!
    I appreciate you stopping by…do come back and visit!

  3. I grew up much as you did Victoria, always hanging the clothes out on the clothes line, none of those umbrella things, actual clotheslines strung in the yard and clothes poles, and that continues to this day. I can’t imagine any other way :-) My mom finally stopped doing it in the dead of winter, when the stuff would freeze on the line LOL… and yes, the running outside when a sudden rain shower would appear to get the clothes down. I love hanging my clothes on the line.. you are correct, there is no duplicating the smell.

    I loved seeing it in Venice and thought it quite natural, although I kept thinking, what if it blows down when it was over a canal! On a very windy day, the clothes fell down in a Calle I was walking down, and the shopkeeper below, ran outside to gather up the clothes, all the while he, and the man in the apartment above, were shouting back and forth and laughing. It made me smile. And again, I thought, ‘see, if that were over a canal…..’

    Great post, great photos, and thanks for the trip down memory lane that it invoked.

    • Ciao, Rae,
      Ah, I wish I had a clothesline! I love your memories and experiences, too. Grazie for sharing and commenting…always fun to connect.
      Appreciated and hoping we’ll take some photos together next spring! 😀

  4. Barbara Payne says:

    I also love laundry photos and I have quite a collection of them, but not as extensive as yours. It is one of my favorite things about Italy.

    • Barbara,
      It’s just irresistible isn’t it?:D I actually have many more! Several hundred… Love it and love sharing…
      Grazie for commenting, please keep stopping by!

  5. Paula Jensen-Holm says:

    Great story and so many wonderful photos of laundry or the “washing” as we call it in Oz, I have never met anyone who can write so poetically and wistfully about this subject but I can see now how it evokes such wonderful memories for you. Luckily here we have so much sunshine that the washing always gets hung outside to dry!

    • Paula,
      Indeed it’s the memories and the intimacy of it. We are so closed off from each other in so many ways – our “privacy” and there is something about the “washing” or laundry hanging so freely that I find appealing.
      Grazie for taking the time to comment…always appreciated!

  6. Aah Italy! Wow, your Mom was hard-core! I thought my Mother’s laundry day was hard but she had an old 2nd hand wringer washing machine and with 6 of us, 2 really long clothes lines. I’ll never forget the fragrance of that dried laundry, and getting into my freshly changed bed, nor taking it off the line when everything froze! Then there were the hanging racks in the basement for stuff that didn’t dry. We should give up a big thanks to our Mom’s for giving us these memories shouldn’t we V? BTW love the photos! Joe really gets into the whole laundry thing there too!

    • Ha! Hard core? Maybe, no wringer washer (she had very strong hands) but we never had to deal with frozen undies! LOL
      Yes, that wonderful “fresh sheets” feeling–not quite the same but I still love it, don’t you?
      Definitely a big thanks to our Mothers – how I wished I could express my gratitude for something we just took for granted…
      As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.

  7. I absolutely love this post, Victoria! As you know I too, am captivating seeing all the laundry in every town of Italy. And I love the connection yo your wonderful mother and your stories and memories of your childhood. Thank you for sharing those with your readers.

    • Grazie, Margie! There is just something so charming about it, isn’t there? I’m sure my mother would be amused at all this. And, I’m guessing that some of these photos were taken when we were traveling together? Thinking there will be many more!

  8. Janey says:

    Oh girl…..you are a woman after my own heart! The heart of photographing Italian laundry! On one trip for a photography seminar, our mission for the day was “the art of laundry and its launderer”!!! Wonderful images were turned in that day….so much fun too. My Italian laundry folder of images grows with each visit!
    And my mom hanging ours? Why, each piece had to be hung a certain way with the clothesline turned just so….and each piece had to be taken down and folded before it went into the basket! It was a ritual each day and if u didn’t follow code~~~back to the washer they went for round two! HAHAHAHAHAHA. It makes my heart happy to hear of other clothesline antics played out because of our mothers!!
    If I close my eyes right this very moment,,,I can actually smell the freshness of that crisp cotton fabric flapping in the breeze.
    On my last jaunt to Assisi for 3 weeks I found myself being very proud of my hanging skills. Even saw someone photographing my clothes, so I went out and photographed them shooting my clothes!! Pretty funny!
    Thanks for letting me recall that sunny afternoon!!!

    • Ciao, Janey! Grazie for sharing :D. Who knew so many of us had such fond memories fastened to laundry!?
      Yes, the ritual was very specific, a meditation of sorts. I love knowing I’m not the only one who loves to take snapshots
      & now I have to wonder if that very fact is taken into consideration when laundry is hung out?
      Looking forward to taking lots of fun photos together in Italy!

  9. Wow! You really have a LOT of laundry photos! A very interesting collection of shots. Although we had a washer and dryer growing up, my mother hung the laundry outside whenever it was possible. As a kid, I didn’t understand it or maybe I didn’t want to understand it, particularly when it was my turn to hang it up or take it in. But I know what you mean about the smell, there’s nothing like the aroma of sunshine.
    I’ve also taken pictures of laundry from time to time (not as many as you have, that’s for sure), but one gorgeous day on a visit to Cosenza (Calabria) I was struck by the amount of laundry hanging all over the old town. In my head I nicknamed it, “The City of Laundry” and in the blogpost I wrote about the city, I headed it with my favorite picture of laundry – on one side a church rose window and on the other a balcony with flapping laundry:

    • Ciao, Karen!
      I am loving the comments about laundry and memories! Thank you for sharing yours as well.
      Yes, I have a LOT of laundry photos – actually hundreds! It was difficult to “choose” for this
      particular post. Maybe a sequel?
      I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment–please keep stopping by!

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