The Italian way of doing laundry

Stendino- Italy from the Inside

Every time I think about the first times I did my laundry in the States I feel a stinging wave of shame and foolishness. Why? Because I was coming from a country where at that time (and even now) only a few people owned “the beast”. Yes, this is how the dryer looked to me: as a fierce machine only able to ruin and shrink your “made in Italy” garments. Therefore not only I sticked to the stupid decision of not using it, but I was also doing something even more stupid: I was hanging my clothes inside my small condo, exactly how most Italians do. There’s only one difference: in Italy it rains sporadically, while in Seattle it rains almost every day. I don’t even want to mention the amount of humidity that was forming on our single pane windows. I’m sure people from outside thought we were living in an aquarium…

However last year, during our year-long stay in Italy, I had to go “back to normal”, which means checking the forecast before doing the laundry, as most Italians do. After that, you are usually left with three options:

Option A. It is going to be a sunny day and you can hang everything outside taking into consideration one only caveat: if you share the drying ropes with a neighbor, you better hurry up and be there before them.

Option B. It is going to be a decent day and you can hang everything outside, but you better stick around in case of a sudden shower (been there, done that).

Option C. It is going to rain for the next 5 days and your kids are running out of socks. You have no choice than doing the laundry and having the drying rack tra i piedi (which is a flamboyant way to say “in the way”) for the next two days. Obviously you wish that everything is going to be dry in 24 hours. Yes, sure.

The photo above is clearly the result of option C…


  1. says

    Hey Francesca! Loved your post as I’ve rediscovered the clothes rack this summer staying in Venice where clothes take a lifetime to dry inside!! I sooooo miss my dryer at home, although not the adorable way it shrinks everything just a little bit more each time!!! Shall watch out for your next blogs! :o)

    • Francesca Tosolini says

      Thank you for your comment Lizzie! As for you, the dryer has become my best friend, also because I don’t have to iron my clothes anymore. I know some people in Italy who even iron their underwear! Thank you, but no, thank you.

  2. Judy says

    why do most people not have dryers in their homes? That must be a real cat and mouse game trying to beat the neighbor to the clothes line? There must be at times hot tempers when the other person thought they should have had it first or just plain mad at the other person because they beat them to it!!!

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