The Life Continental: Doing the Laundry Italian-Style

For some, it’s a rolling Tuscan hill lined with grapevines. For others, it’s an illuminated fresco on a church wall. As for me, it’s a clothesline.


Brackets, like this one sold by Grainger, are readily available in hardware stores and cost under $10 each.

Everyone leaves Italy with an indelible sensory image (and 10 extra pounds). I associate the country with clotheslines; they’re strung between buildings and across balconies laden with geranium-filled  terracotta pots. I simply adore them, despite not so fond memories of trying to fold stiff towels as a kid. Due to a recent change in employment, I could not schedule a family vacation this summer. Determined to make the most of this imposed staycation, I decided to incorporate some of the routines I’ve observed on past trips to Europe into my day.

I originally thought I’d hang an elaborate system on the back of our house. Versaline, an Australian company, offered one with 4 removable lines. But the $165 price tag was steep and my husband balked at violating the integrity of our vinyl siding. My friend Christina, who’s had a simple clothesline hung on her deck for years, suggested I purchase two brackets from the hardware store, mount them on a section of my wooden fence and lace a length of clothesline between the holes. I picked up 100 clothespins at the hardware store and Christina whipped up a pin bag using a past-its-prime dishtowel and a plastic hanger. I was in business.

clothesline backyard laundryBy changing up my routine, I was hoping to inject a bit of La Bella Vita into my day. It worked. The clothesline added some giddyup to a very dull chore. I get excited if the weather forecasts a perfect laundry day – low humidity, light breeze – and I’m experimenting with different detergents and softeners to see which provides the best feel and smell. It’s worth hanging a line just to dry your sheets. When you get into bed, you feel like you’re sleeping on a sun-dappled lawn, without the bugs and dirt and stuff.  And the exercise is great – goodbye teacher arms.

21 thoughts on “The Life Continental: Doing the Laundry Italian-Style

    • And thanks for visiting. I continue to find that by just slowing down, you can add style to almost anything. We Americans rush through most things because we equate more with better, forgetting that there’s joy and beauty in simple routines. What do you think?

      • I agree with you 100 percent. I’m a slow-it-down kind of person. Take time. Notice more. Enjoy greatly. 🙂

  1. Wonderful the way you were able to transform that idea into reality!! One laundry tip – instead of fabric softener try using white vinegar (the cheap clear stuff made from alcohol. The smell disappears and your laundry will stay nice and soft.

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