ISO Code: ita
Native name: italiano
Family: Indo-European
Est. L1 speakers: 65,000,000
Est. L2 speakers: 21,000,000
Est. total speakers: 86,000,000
(Co-)official in:
  1. European Union


Of the major Romance languages, Italian is the most direct descendant of Latin – a status that automatically affords a certain amount of importance and prestige. Even if you overlooked this status, however, and also ignored the fact that the language is spoken by a sizable population (about 65 million natively and a further 20 million or so as a second language) – even if you overlooked and ignored all this – Italian would still be a language worth of most serious consideration as a language to study.

Considertaion by whom? Well, for starters, by anyone studying, working, or creating in the areas of art history, art, classical music, architecture, fashion, or industrial design. Speaking of fashion and industrial design, these two industries have pretty much declared Milan to be their informal capital, although the fulcrum of “correct” literary Italian is to the south, in the Renaissance metropolis of Florence.

Where Italian Is Spoken

Italian-language Writers

  • (20th century:) Alberto Moravia, Italo Calvino, Dino Buzzati, Umberto Ecco