Naples: Airing My Laundry

Monday, January 22, 2018

Naples: Airing My Laundry

I smell...fresh laundry...
Naples is Italy's largest outdoor laundromat. Any chance people get, they put out their laundry to dry. The mild Mediterranean climate invites this. Begs it, even. While the smell of sewage and dog shit should have a monopoly, the tiny streets are instead fragranced with lavender detergent purchased from the local supermarket.

There is an art to it. As I walked up to the Vomero district on Sunday, up the stairs, then up more stairs, then ascending yet another flight of stairs, I saw the many strategies. Ground floor apartments throughout the city have drying racks outside their house year-round, usually chained to a bolt in the wall. While they leave their clothes on them, out in the public, for anyone to take, they guard their drying racks like the precious appliances they are. 

Up, up, up...
Climbing higher, I saw the upper floors and their drying racks hanging from the windows. I am a proud owner, if just temporarily, of such a rack. I join the old Italian women and students of my building draping our tee shirts and underwear out for everyone to see. I go out for my walks after hanging the laundry out, paranoid that it will start to rain or blow away. I have learned, over the past three weeks, to trust the clothespin. I haven't lost a sock yet.

I noticed how other people dealt with some of the logistics of outdoor drying. Italians are quite clever. Some put tarps over their drying clothes, in case a late afternoon rain shower should delay the process. Others on larger streets draped plastic sheets on the outermost reaches of their drying racks, preventing, I assume, car exhaust from hitting their clean clothes. Maybe that's not as clear as it may be naif...

Rewarding views, painful knees...

The winners are those Italians who have clotheslines crossing streets, and not just the tiny ones. Whole avenue have spans of clothes line across them, where pillow cases, socks, and trousers dangle over the daily traffic (these individuals are less concerned about car exhaust). 

This dedication to drying clothes outside is as Neopolitan as pizza, which by the way, is still not getting old. I accidentally had a white pizza with cream and pancetta from Pizzeria Vesi, but I did not mind the accident.

 A pizza...

I also had a fantastic margherita (OK, two) from Pizzeria di Matteo, one of my favorites so far. Apparently, this pizzeria was another stop by Bill Clinton. He was a smart guy, I suppose. I haven't noticed any weight gain yet, so I think I need to up the weekly pizza intake. We'll see how that goes this week.

Another pizza...


  1. If I lived there I would become one of those stories that you hear about when you are a kid about how the girl down the street ate so many carrots that she became one herself. I would have to get my stomach pumped from eating pizza. They would have to create a new body mass index to calculate how much of my body is actual pizza

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  3. I assume you are still running up a storm to counteract all this pizza? I'm trying the same in Rome but my legs are less dedicated than my mouth.

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