Italians pay dearly for electricity, so it’s no wonder strings of laundry waving in the breeze are a common sight in many neighborhoods. Even in cosmopolitan cities like Rome, many rear facing courtyards have clotheslines strung between windows and drying racks dot nearly every balcony and terrace. They can make interesting subjects for painters, if not overdone.
But what do we tourist/travelers do on extended vacations? Do we stuff our oversized suitcases with a change of clothes for every day? Self-service Laundromats are scarce in Italy, and often inconveniently located. So do we pay the high prices for a commercial laundry? 2.5 euro is a lot to pay for a clean pair of socks! Here’s what Barbara and I do:
We have a little laundry kit that we store with our passports and other travel items when we are at home. It takes only a minute to grab our kit when we’re ready to go, and we’re set to do our laundry anywhere.
Our kit consists of a length of plastic coated clothesline and a handful of plastic clothespins. Once we learned that not every hotel sink (or bidet!) holds water we added a flat rubber stopper to the kit. We also include several individual packets of hand laundry soap, or an 8 ounce bottle of Woolite. We always travel light on the way out so the extra weight of the Woolite is not an issue and then we know we have something that will work for us while we’re away.
We recently added a handy gizmo we found in a little house goods shop in Lucca. We seldom use our clothesline anymore as this is little hanging rack saves time and space and can even handle a couple of shirts at a time. It weighs next to nothing and folds flat so it takes up no room in a suitcase.
Matthew Daub is a professional artist and university professor with works in major public and private collections throughout the United States and Europe. He has been leading plein air painting workshops in Italy since 1994. In 1999, Matthew and his wife Barbara formed Arts Sojourn as “a vacation for artists and their friends.” The program is designed to appeal to artists of all levels as well as non-artists who enjoy the company of creative people in a slow travel format.
Slow Travel Tours is an affiliation of small-group tour operators who offer personalized trips in Italy, France and other European countries.