46. Laundry Day

Naples is filled with iconic sights.

There’s Mount Vesuvio overlooking the Bay of Naples. There’s the treasures in the National Archeological Museum. There’s the food, ranging from pizza to sfogliatelle.

But I think ranking in the top ten would be the characteristic sight of narrow streets festooned with laundry hanging from the balconies.

In Italy, dryers, and maybe even washing machines, are not the norm, saving expense and space in small apartments. And why should they be, given the bright sun to do the job for free?

This is definitely not the norm in America, to the point where there are developments and communities that prohibit using a clothesline. But I find there’s something appealing about it, even though I have a perfectly good — and much more convenient — dryer. Much to the chagrin of my neighbors, who have to witness my bloomers waving in the wind, I hang my wash outside from April to October. Do I do so because of the practical concern of saving a bit of energy and extending the life of my clothes? Or is it something more profound than that? Maybe you can take the girl out of Naples, but you can’t take Naples out of the girl.

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