Monday, May 16, 2011

Deciphering an Italian washing machine

I know, you're all thinking, we've been through this. We've seen Italian washing machines.  What's the big deal. So they're slow.  They take 4 hours to wash the clothes, annoying but understandable.  By the way, I am personally convinced that this is caused because the barrel of the machine goes slowly clockwise and then for no apparent reason, changes and goes slowly counter clockwise.  Why can't the machine just go wish, wash, like a normal machine?

Anyway the machine that I want to introduce you to is no ordinary Italian washing machine.  It is a thing of beauty.  It has a very innocent looking little face as you will see from the photos below.  It doesn't take up much floor space.  It is a soothing color of white.  At the top of the machine it is fitted with a large benign looking circular dial with red settings to the left and blue settings to the right. It you think this has significance, you would be wrong.   This one large dial has tiny little incomprehensible icons to the left.  I know you are thinking,  once you figure out the little icons, non c'e' problema.  Well my friends, welcome to laundry hell.  Not only is this a brand new Italian combo machine a washer and a dryer it is also fitted with computerized controls, designed by the very people who bring you the road signs that say "tutte direzzion" (all dirctions when you come to a dead end street and are trying to decide if you should turn right or left.)  As my friend Michael says, lots of data no information.

The Stoic One decided that he should try out the washing machine to give feedback to Mani on whether or not it worked.  We looked at the instructions, all in Italian.  He started inputting the instructions into Google translate but decide it was too hard. I looked at it and fell asleep before I could even reach my dictionary.  I can't stand to read washing machine instructions in English much less Italian.  I said, "Do your best, dear," and off he went into the broom closet. 5 hours later, the Stoic One remarked that he wasn't able to locate the dryer. I smartly remarked that it was in the same machine as the washer and perhaps he should use the red settings to the left instead of the blue settings.  He said he used the red settings to start the washing machine and nothing was moving the dryer forward when he tried the red or the blue markings.  Oh.  Well, I think it is much nicer to hang the clothes gaily about the apartment and forget the dryer.  He looked a bit petulant I must say as we hung the clothes on the end of the iron bed.  We must look for a "stendino" drying wrack to you in case all else fails.

Tiziano and Mani show up about 7:00 to see how things are going and to give us instructions on all of our machines.  The water in the back of the fridge is not a problem.  See how there is a little piece of plastic to catch the water?  Normale.  I am told to keep the fridge at number "2" no matter what.  Even in the summer, the fridge could cycle on and off and on and off and then "boom".  Boom is not good in either Italian or English.  I learned that there is an icon on our oven for piazzas, and there is another icon for baked gratin dishes and another icon for bread, as if....So I said where is 350 and what do I push for a normal casserole type dinner.  They smiled and we moved on to the broom closet to look at the washing machine.

 In this tiny space of a broom closet,  3 grown men stand stooped over staring at this poor little critter as if it were a rabid monkey.  Tiziano decides to get the instruction book.  Mani says let's wait for the Milanese to show up he has excellent English and can explain this. Tiziano says what is he going to explain when no one knows how the machine works.  Mani shrugs.  Mr. Stoic tries to point out how he got the washing machine to work yesterday but not the dryer by using the red settings.  This is not possible they say.  I love when Italians tell me something is not possible when it has just occured.  Do you suppose this has something to do with the subjunctive tense?  Anyway, I say , well I don't do the laundry.  Mani says perhaps Gary could go down to the river Tiber and do wash on the rocks and Tiziano looks perplexed.  He fiddles with the dials.  Incomprehensible icons show up on the computer side of the machine.  Tiziano says the machine does not match the picture.  Mani says we should wait for the Milanese.  The Stoic one says he knows how to use the washer it is only the dryer that is the problem.  After an hour of this, we all decide we must have dinner and they leave.  I find all Italians are as intrigued with technology as I am but there intuition is also about as good as mine.  The Milanese at least has a degree in agriculture.  Maybe that will help.

Tomorrow we go off to the Ikea store outside of Florence.  I am looking for a trash can for the kitchen, some candles, a basket or two.  Would you like to guess how much we spend and if you will ever hear from me again?


  1. Dear American in Umbria,

    I'm just starting to go through your blog, and -being from Europe myself- have to add a remark on your Italian wsher/dryer. When I came to California 20 years ago I ws horrified by local washers/dryers: washing machine wouldn't acutally wash clothes, they were merely kept in water for a very short time, and poked with a thing standing in the middle. After a couple of months all white ones gradually became kind of grey. After doing some research I realized this kind of washing machine will never really clean clothes, and I got ourselves a nice small German front loaded washer, similar to yours. After 17 years it still cleans our clothes perfectly by immersing them in small amount of water and turning them clockwise and counter-clockwise allowing to fall down form the top of the drum, this is when the actual cleaning happens.

  2. I want plenty of articles and blogs please upload shortly.

  3. An enormous round of applause, continue the great work. Mathew

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.