‘Oh for goodness sake, you have been here eight weeks and lost nine of them,’ I tell myself one glorious sunny, “perfect weather for washing” day. ‘Okay, so you are not worried about the coloured ones, but the white ones were great, same as you had in Melbourne (very simple touch and easy to squeeze), but this time if you keep losing them you are going to have to go out and buy some more. That is if you don’t fall out in the meantime,’ I continue to mutter to myself.
It doesn’t seem fair that petite people have issues with reach, and having to do this almost every other day makes me think I will reach out and topple to the ground chasing my fragile plastic pegs! So I stare at the 9 little smashed bodies down there on the concrete at the feet of a very large unsmiling dog. I would love to rush down and pick them up but they are in a courtyard behind a big gate with an even bigger dog who – from the size of his teeth and sound of his growl – does not like having broken bits of pegs taking up his yard space!
Yes, eight weeks here and I am still trying to get the daily wash to dry by not flinging it over an airer, but by opening my big kitchen windows, three stories up from ground level, reaching out and trying to secure each article with a peg to the rope that juts out from the very old, brick wall of our rented apartment here in Lucca. It’s a far cry from the plastic clothesline I have in Melbourne. It will just be gathering cobwebs now. I haven’t seen any cobwebs on my new rope and wonder if the huge Tuscan seagulls that continually fly overhead, will try to aim for the washing as it flaps around in the breeze.
When you dream of living the Italian way, it probably doesn’t extend to dangerously dangling out of your kitchen window just to hang your washing out to dry! It is frustrating enough trying to come to grips with the choices on the dial of the washing machine, and not to mention standing in the supermarket with a row of products glaring at you as you try to work out what cleans the clothes, not the toilet. I really should have taken those Italian lessons years ago when, on our first trip, I chose the toilet cleaner to wash the towels. They looked clean and smelled good, even though I had no idea what I was using. Thank goodness for “Google Translate” once again as now I at least know washing powder is “detersivo in polvere” and your washing machine is the “lavatrice” (which I first thought was the lavatory – toilet).
The Italian washing machine is very fancy and it can take you literally hours to do a wash if you follow the pictures that come up as you turn the dial. Mine says two hours and ten minutes if you do “cotoni” (with a picture of a t-shirt). No way am I wasting time and money on water to wash a t-shirt for that long. The quickest is 20 minutes for a “camicie” (with a picture of a business shirt). Obviously Italian men don’t get all that grubby in a business shirt.
My next dilemma is that our delightful landlord has filled our cupboards with beautiful white bed sheets, all with very wide lace edges. I feel like someone very important as I climb into bed each evening. What’s the dilemma in that you might ask? Well, first of all, I have to iron them once they are washed to ensure they continue to look stunning on the bed. Extra ironing for me, which isn’t so bad. So imagine my horror at having to throw the sheets overboard out the window onto the rope to dry, hoping that the wind doesn’t fling them against the old, brick wall, as well as the brown-coloured downpipe, which is strategically placed to interfere with the drying process. What happens if the lacy bits catch on the wall or the downpipe while they are drying? Surely I can’t leave them there – perhaps I need to hang around in my tiny kitchen while they are bearing their whiteness to the sunshine and just hope that they will not be torn to shreds and turn a brownish hue as they are drying!
While I am standing here I must also work out how to pull the rope along to give me the most length for my washing. It can’t be difficult, but for me the task of hanging out the washing and not running out of rope, or indeed falling out of the window and joining the unsmiling large brown dog down there in the courtyard, is quite dangerous.
I want to do the washing the way the Italians do, without using one of the many “lavanderias” scattered throughout the town. Surely it’s not that hard to manage pegs and a piece of rope?
And don’t get me started on bringing the washing in without dropping the little socks either.