Saturday, July 16, 2011

Il Bucato

Laundry, il bucato.  Our appartamento comes with a washing machine, una lavatrice, but doing laundry here requires some different techniques and uses more time than we’ve been accustomed to.  In the first place, ours is the smallest capacity washing machine I’ve ever come across.  It looks okay from the front, but the drum is only about 6 inches deep.  A moderate load of clothing is okay, but one queen-size sheet is really too much for the poor thing.  Furthermore, the shortest effective wash cycle takes about an hour and thirty-five minutes.  So I make a weekly pilgrimage to a commercial self-service laundromat to wash the towels and bed-sheets.  More about that later.
Fits anywhere...

...and this is why.
We have la lavatrice, but we don’t have un’asciugatrice, a dryer.  Instead we have this folding rack (uno stendibiancheria), which pretty well blockades the dining room when we use it, and we have a fun set of mechanized rods hanging above the bathtub.
Il stendino

There are six bars on this gadget, each suspended by a cord-and-pulley system.  Hook a ring, lower the rod attached to it, hang wet clothes, pull the rod up to the ceiling and hook the ring on the retainer hook, repeat for other rods, allow laundry to air dry, etc.  I think it’s kinda fun, but then, I’m easily amused.  You do have to plan ahead however, since drying may take all day.
Drying rods above the tub

The controls.  

Luckily there is a laundromat (una lavanderia) about eight minutes walk away.  If it weren’t so expensive—anywhere from €5.60 to €8 to wash and dry a load ($8 to $11.50)— I’d consider doing all the laundry there.  But I’m willing to pay the price for fluffy towels and clean sheets done in an hour in one load.  The lavanderia is not without its educational and entertainment values.  Even with multilingual signs, the operations necessary to process your bucato are not immediately clear.  Some washers use €1 coins, but others, and the dryers, use gettoni. These are brass tokens you have to buy from a dispenser on the wall at the rate of €1.30 per gettone.   The exercise of reading all the instructional signs and deducing the required actions can be daunting, even to Italians.  As an old hand now, several times I’ve had to explain how things work—in my halting and semi-grammatical Italian.
Our local lavanderia

Window painting of a classic lavandaia.

As for entertainment, read the English version of this sign. (click on it to enlarge) 

I have to go ignite the writing.


  1. No rods and pulleys outside your windows to the building across the street??

  2. The writing of you/it is much flammable.