In our age, where we all feel the need to be connected, we must admit that all the buildings in Venice are connected on a historical net; one or more thin threads have always connected one building to another: the washing lines.
The washing lines in Venice are high tech engineering works; they perform challenging flights, they draw long ranges, daringly stretched across Venice’s narrow streets (calli), squares (campi) and canals and they end up being stuck into a random opposite wall, which might even be a church wall, with no respect for its sacredness (if you do not believe this, go and see the church of San Giuseppe).
The ideal moment is a bright sunny day after a dull rainy day. The metallic screeching sound of pulleys, voices from open windows, the smell of Marseille soap announce the event: all of a sudden, the most working-class neighbourhoods start dressing up. A washing festival, with endless bunting which colours and perfumes the whole city.
In any other part of the world you would be considered a “voyeur”, but not in Venice: socks, vests, shirts, bed sheets, but also panties, bras, nothing is hidden from the eyes of the passer by who by simply strolling around with his nose up is able to enter the intimacy of someone else’s house.
Believe us when we say this “occupation” of the urban air space is not either folkloric ostentation or self complacent showing off. In the working -class neighbourhoods daily life still takes place in the calli, in the courtyards and in the little squares, which are perceived as an extension of their own houses and that is why they are experienced as such. Set aside your qualms then, and start observing the washing hanging out in the sun and in the wind with discretion (that is always appreciated): it will have a soothing effect on you; we from Inside Venice give you our word.
Ideal period: spring and autumn after rainy days
Ideal areas: Cannaregio and Castello neighbourhoods