You’d think it’d be a no-brainer: Italians, in Italy, speak Italian. But not so fast. Not only did the country’s parliament just this week vote to add “The Italian language is the official language of the Republic” to the constitution, many Italians are unhappy with the decision.
While at first this may seem odd, when you look closer, it makes sense. I didn’t realize this when I traveled through Italy, but the language most English speakers assume is Italian, is actually just the Tuscan dialect of Italian. The language actually has a number of dialects — some so specific to particular regions, that, when spoken, they’re incomprehensible to the rest of the country. (For an example in English, talk to someone from South London, and then someone from Liverpool — at times it’s hard to believe they’re speaking the language.) And, as you might suspect, people are quite attached to what’s spoken in their area.
In fact, some parts of the country don’t speak Italian at all — notably the Alto Adige region, where they speak German, and in Val d’Aosta, where they speak French.
The change, however, is symbolic. So, chances are — even if you speak Italian — you won’t notice anything different on your next visit.