It’s often a family affair.

I could park myself at these rustic communal fountains near the beaches of southern Italy (this one’s in Puglia, the heel of Italy) and watch the parades of people washing up. Brutal heat doesn’t seem to deter people from baking in the sun and turning even darker shades of a rich bronze. In this photo, captured during the vacation-frenzied month of August (much of Italy shuts down for this sacrosanct period), three generations take their turns cleaning the sandy grit from their feet and legs. And, they don’t hesitate to get a good dousing on their heads and a parting gulp of water (yes, it’s potable).

I love seeing how generations are so tightly connected.

This is just one of many examples of the importance of family here in Italy. At restaurants or big dinners, you don’t see the younger generation cordoning themselves off from other members of the family. If they did, it would be considered rude. No, when the family is gathered, especially for a meal, everyone is expected to be present in the fullest sense. Affection is shared freely and openly, from mothers and fathers alike.

It’s all about texture.

Well, that’s how I look at capturing the Italian culture and way of life. The textures of relationship, the textures of everyday activities, and the textures and styles of communication in Italy. I still have loads to learn in this regard, and I confess that my American (and Southern) upbringing are often hurdles that I have to clear in finding my way into participating more fully in this rich and unique way of life.

If you’ve enjoyed this washing up “study,” I hope you’ll check out my black and white gallery and my color gallery, which are constantly expanding!