The Right to Dry or an Art Form: Venice at Its Finest Linens
French Property Insider Volume XII, Issue 41 Thursday, October 16, 2014 • Paris, France
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(All photos by Erica Simone mouse over photos for description)
When one thinks of Italy, the things that might come to mind first are 1) pasta, 2) leather, 3) Madonnas...and 4)drying laundry in the open air, right?
The day we arrived in Venice, our first excursion (after having a bowl of pasta and strolling among the tourists and the pigeons at Piazza San Marco), was to head to the residential area past the Arsenale where airing one's clean (not dirty, hopefully) laundry is part of the scenery like ornaments on a Christmas tree. It's as symbolic of Italy for me as Sophia Loren, limoncello or Tiramisù.
Drying laundry outside in public in Paris is "interdit" (prohibited). You will never see a line strewn across a street, a rack hanging from a window or even a drying rack on a balcony. Once when my neighbor across the street put her duvet out on the window to dry, but left it for 24 hours, I posted a sign on my own window large enough for her to see it 'politely' asking her to remove the eye sore from my view! That's how sensitive even I have become to seeing such an unsightly mess.
The prohibition of the extension of laundry to the windows, balconies and terraces is intended to prevent the "visual pollution they represent." More and more cities are taking this position in France -- Beziers, Mantes-la-Jolie (Yvelines) and Fontainebleau, for example. It's been forbidden in Lyon more than 30 years, but other cities in France haven't taken the same view --- Toulouse, Montpellier and my second home, Nice, are among them.
Hanging your laundry out to dry is considered traditional practice in the south, where everything is done OUT, unlike in Paris that has a wet climate and therefore not as conducive to airing one's wet garments and linens, anyway. Southern cities like Beziers are having a harder time dealing with the cultural conflict.
In the U.S. there is a "Right to Dry Movement" sponsored by "organizations campaigning against legislation which has outlawed line-drying of clothing in public places, especially given the increased greenhouse gas emissions produced by clothes dryers." Let's face it, Europe isn't as well equipped with dryers as is the U.S., and in places like Italy, where the sun doth shine and the spirit is perhaps a bit more 'anarchistic,' it's not only perfectly alright -- it's an art form.
Enjoy some of Erica Simone's 'less-than-touristy' candid shots of Venezia, including those which prove that hanging laundry outside can be a form of art, not just a southern tradition!
P.S. It's tonight! Be sure to tune in to House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. for "Snapshot of City Life in Paris, France" when Ben and Nicole Miller need to choose between an apartment in central Paris full of photo ops and a home closer to Ben's job outside the city so he doesn't need to commute. Watch as I help them find the perfect solution! And be sure to Like our Facebook page.
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