Why study Italian today?
Apart from helping you acquire a useful skill and an understanding of another culture, study of a foreign language can be a transformative experience, changing the way you think not only about your own culture, but about yourself and your place in the world. Study a foreign language, and stick with it! But why study Italian?
- Italy has one of the richest cultural heritages of Western Civilization and over the last 800 years has been a world leader in literature, architecture, painting, sculpture and music. The first University in Europe was founded in Bologna in 1088. Its School of Law was also the first in history and attracted scholars from all over Europe. Banking and accountancy were invented in Italy in the late Middle Ages
- Italy is one of the G8, and many employers are seeking people who speak both Italian and English. An estimated 7,500 American companies do business with Italy and more than 1,000 U.S. firms have offices in Italy including IBM, General Electric, Motorola, Citibank, Fiat & Chrysler, ABB, Nestle`, Luxottica, Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, etc. Many Italian firms have offices in the U.S.
- Knowing Italian is greatly beneficial in several career fields. Italy is a world leader in the culinary arts, music, opera, interior design, fashion, graphic design, furniture design, machine tool manufacturing, robotics, electromechanical machinery, shipbuilding, space engineering, construction machinery, and transportation equipment. Those planning careers in these fields would greatly benefit from knowing Italian.
- According to UNESCO, over 60% of the world’s art treasures are found in Italy. Some of the most famous Western artists, from Giotto to Michelangelo, were Italian. Knowledge of Italian is vital to understand the context and history of art.
- Italy is the fourth language most spoken in U.S. homes, according to the US Census Bureau (2000). It is also spoken in Switzerland, parts of Africa, the Balkans, the island of Malta, and throughout all of Europe, Canada, Australia, Argentina and Brazil.
- Italian literature as well as Italian music boasts some of the world’s most famous writers, and thinkers such as Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli, Verga, Svevo, Pirandello, Gramsci to name a few; and musicians and composers such as Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Puccini, Verdi, and Rossini to name a few.
Since Roman times, Italy has exported its literature and culture to other parts of Europe and beyond, in the areas of Latin literature, Romanitas, humanism, opera, film, science, political thought, fashion, design, and cuisine. Knowing Italian allows you to understand, appreciate, and analyze this treasury of human expression.
Italy has long been a magnet for the tourism industry: millions and millions of people visit Italy from all over the world each year. Cities such as Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan are among the well-recognized cities in the world. Over the centuries, Italy has produced some of the most remarkable cultural works in the western canon, from the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri to Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel and the genius of Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo, from The Prince of Niccolò Machiavelli to the neo-realist films of Vittorio De Sica, and from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Courtier to the post- modernist novels of Italo Calvino. Historically, too, Italy has always been of great importance. In the Middle Ages cities such as Florence and Venice were among the richest and most powerful of Europe; it was Italy that produced the Renaissance, the culture and values of which have provided the foundations of much of western life in the last five hundred years; in the nineteenth century it provided one of the most exciting and inspiring examples of movement of national unification. Knowledge of the Italian language affords access to one of the West’s richest cultural traditions as well as to one of Europe’s most vital contemporary societies.