|Est. L1 speakers:||65,000,000|
|Est. L2 speakers:||21,000,000|
|Est. total speakers:||86,000,000|
Of all the Romance languages, Italian is the most direct descendant of Latin, a status which automatically implies a certain amount of importance and prestige. But even if you overlooked this status and the fact that the language is spoken by about 65 million natively and a further 20 million or so as a second language, Italian would still be an extremely useful for anyone studying or working in the areas of art history, classical music, fashion, and industrial design. The two latter industries have pretty much declared Milan to be their informal capital, although the fulcrum of “correct” Italian is to the south, in the Renaissance metropolis of Florence.