Another side of waterworld


This minuscule bulletin is for anyone who might think that the most troublesome water in Venice is in the canals.

Actually, it’s in the air.

After about ten days of rain and mist, in varying proportions, with random interludes of damp, persistent wind, my sinuses feel like the average compressed-air can.  Just think — if I could breathe, I could blast the dust out of my computer all by myself.

Who — I hear you ask — cares?

I mention it because it leads us to an infinitesimal aspect of life in the most-beautiful-city-in-the-world.  Laundry.  The fate of wet laundry in what amounts to a World Heritage Site aquarium.

Two nights ago, I slipped between clean sheets which I had wishfully thought were dry, but discovered had retained the subtlest possible essence of humidity, just enough to make me feel like a very old loggerhead sea turtle lying on the wet sand waiting to lay my eggs.  I snapped. It was time to launch the death rays.

So I washed several hundred pounds of garments and towels and other heavy stuff, jammed it into the rolling suitcase, and hauled it to the laundromat on the Lido, where four big dryers were waiting for me.

Actually, only three were waiting, because someone had gotten there before me. I sorted my raiment into them, dropped in the coins and hit the highest temperature possible.  I think it was close to “incinerate.”  At one euro ($1.37) for ten minutes, it wasn’t exactly a deal, but this was no time to haggle.

In the hour I was there, three other people came in, lugging various huge containers of damp laundry.

Apparently everybody had had the same idea.

Only in winter does the absurdity strike you of photographing laundry drying in the middle of water.

After three sessions, I took out the heaviest item, a waffle-weave cotton blanket. It was hot and totally dry, exquisitely dry, irresistibly dry. I could barely resist the temptation to put it back for another ten minutes just to imagine myself becoming one with the transcendent dryness of it.  If you had offered me a box of Teuscher truffles — or even white truffles from Alba — at that moment, or maybe six 0.03-carat rubies, I couldn’t have concentrated long enough to decide.

It was like an oasis in the desert, only backwards.

When I left, it had started to rain again.

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Categories : Venetian-ness


  1. Yvonne says:

    My skin cringed in sympathy with your damp sheet experience. I liked your tricky shot of the laundry on the line. 🙂

  2. Michael says:

    Great story…and I had to look several times at the photo, wondering “Why did she post it upside-down,” until I finally caught on.


    Michael recently posted..Shady cats

  3. Brandi says:

    I vent to Venice a couple of years ago and I know exactly what you are talking about. I could not believe how humid and damp everything was. It almost drove me insane. I wish I had thought of your solution. Every night I dreaded slipping into my “moist” covers with my feet sticking to them. Ugh!
    Brandi recently posted..How To Build A New House

    • Erla Zwingle says:

      Nice to know there’s one person who confirms my story — I’d rather not give the impression of being too incredibly fussy. However, to be fair I should point out that there are also long (or short but numerous) stretches of dry weather. It’s true. I do not lie about laundry.