Italian, I discovered, was Latin with all the difficulty removed. Much as a skilled chef fillets the whole skeleton out of a fish, some friendly folks somewhere had lifted all that grammar (at least, most of it) out of Latin and called the remainder Italian!
There was no nominative-genitive-dative-accusative in Italian. Not a trace, except in a few pronouns which I knew I could easily take prisoner because we had the same thing in English (me is the accusative of I). Italian verbs did misbehave a little, but not to the psychedelic extent of Latin verbs. And Italian verbs were a lot easier to look at.
- Barry Farber; How to Learn Any Language
Italian is a Romance language.
It is the second-closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary, after Sardinian.
Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City and Istria (in Slovenia and Croatia) and used to have official status in Albania, Malta, and Monaco, all countries where it is still widely spoken, and in former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, regions where it plays a significant role in various sectors.
Italian is spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and by small minorities in areas such as Crimea, Corsica and Montenegro.
Many speakers are native bilinguals of both standardised Italian and other regional languages.
The Italian language adopted by the state after the unification of Italy is based on Tuscan, which beforehand was a language spoken mostly by the upper class of Florentine society. Its development was also influenced by other Italian languages and by the Germanic languages of the post-Roman invaders. Unlike most other Romance languages, Italian retains Latin's contrast between short and long consonants. As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive.