In a recent video, Marika shows us the balcony of her apartment in Rome, so let’s talk about a couple of details concerning Italian life that come to the fore as she takes us around.
Il bucato (the laundry):
In the United States, there are laundry rooms in the basement of a house or apartment building, but this is rare in Italy. People have their own washing machines, usually in the kitchen, bathroom, or on the balcony.
Quando ho finito di usare la lavatrice e devo stendere i miei panni, userò lo stendibiancheria, che è questo.
When I've finished using my washing machine and I need to hang out my laundry, I'll use the drying rack, which is this one.
Captions 41-42, Marika spiega - Il balconePlay Caption
Some people have dryers but most ordinary people don’t. That’s why Marika talks about the drying racks. You buy the one that suits the space you have. The weather is usually such that you can dry your clothes outside. Occasionally, you do need to put the drying racks inside because of inclement weather, or you can place a plastic tarp over the rack to keep the rain out. There are laundromats in town, so if the weather is too bad, you can dry your clothes at the laundromat. Laundry in Italy is something that takes a little thought and planning. Electricity costs less at night, on weekends, and on holidays, so people who want to save do their laundry on the weekend, or at night. Newer washing machines have timers so you can schedule the wash to start at an appropriate time. A load of wash takes a lot longer to finish than you may be used to. It’s not unusual for a cycle to take an hour and a half.
La raccolta differenziata (recycling):
We say “recycling” but actually, what raccolta differenziata (differentiated collection) actually means is separating our garbage into different types to be collected, thus the term “differentiated.” It’s a bit tricky for people who live in apartments.
Per fortuna anche qui, come in tanti posti del mondo, si fa la raccolta differenziata.
Luckily, here too, as in many places in the world, we do recycling.
Caption 17, Marika spiega - Il balconePlay Caption
All the wrappers for food and other materials, usually made of plastic, but also including Tetra Paks and cans, go in one bin. Paper and cardboard go in another, glass in another, and most importantly, the wet stuff, usually food waste, goes in a separate container. What cannot be recycled in any way goes into the general, mixed garbage, or indifferenziata. We are encouraged to keep this type of waste to a bare minimum. Separating the different kinds of waste makes it much easier for the sanitation department workers to go through it and sort it further. Appropriate material will then be actually recycled. People who live outside the city, and have enough space, can get a bio-composter (usually free of charge) so they can recycle their own food and gardening refuse.
The European Parliament has set goals for reducing waste as far as possible. The method that has had the most success is what is called porta a porta (door to door) collection. Every day, a different kind of waste is picked up. At the outset, it costs more, but as it takes hold, people can actually save money.
Zanzariere (mosquito screens):
In the United States, most houses have screen doors and screens on the windows, but in Italy, this is a relatively recent phenomenon. There are all kinds of solutions, from screen curtains with magnets or velcro, to mosquito nets, to proper screens fitted into the windows and doors. They are usually the type that can be easily raised and lowered so people can air their bedspreads and pillows, and shake out their rugs, rags and dust mops from the windows.
Questa alle mie spalle si chiama zanzariera e serve per proteggermi dagli insetti.
This, behind me, is called mosquito netting [screen], and serves to protect me from insects.
Captions 6-7, Marika spiega - Il balconePlay Caption
If you travel to Italy in the summer, it can be wise to make sure the hotel or Bed and Breakfast you are staying in has screens on the windows and French doors. It may not be a given.