Language and Currency


The official language in Italy is Italian, a Romance language, the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary. It is also widely spoken in Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City and Istria. The Italian language adopted by the state after the unification is based on Tuscan, which previously was a language spoken mostly by the upper class of Florentine society.

Throughout Italy, regional variations of Standard Italian, called Regional Italian, are influenced by various factors: the openness of vowels, the length of the consonants, and influence of the local dialects.

Italian is a major European language, being one of the official languages of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and one of the working languages of the Council of Europe. Italian is the third most widely spoken first language in the European Union with 65 million native speakers (13% of the EU population) and it is spoken as a second language by 14 million EU citizens (3%).

Italian is the main working language of the Holy See, serving as the lingua franca in the Catholic hierarchy, as well as the official language of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Italian is known as the language of music because of its use in musical terminology and opera. Its influence is also widespread in the arts and in the luxury goods market. Italian has been reported as the fourth or fifth most frequently taught foreign language in the world.


As a member of the European Union, Italy is also part of the Economic and Monetary Union, which introduced the Euro as the common currency in 2002.

Nowadays these banknotes and coins are in circulation:

  • Banknotes with face-values of  5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros
  • Coins of €1 and €2 as well as 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents

Italian euro coins have a design unique to each denomination, though there is a common theme of famous Italian works of art from Italy’s renowned artists.  The 1 euro coin presents the Vitruvian man of Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo’s work is highly symbolical as it represents the renaissance focus on man as the measure of all things, and has simultaneously a round shape that fits the coin perfectly.

Italian euro design

Italian coins

  • 2 € Portrait of Dante Alighieri by painter Raphael
  • 1€  Vitruvian Man, drawing by Leonardo da Vinci
  • 0,50 € The Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
  • 0,20 €  The Futurist sculpture Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni
  • 0,10 € The Birth of Venus by painter Sandro Botticelli
  • 0,05 €  The Colosseum in Rome, famous Roman Amphitheatre
  • 0,02€  Mole Antonelliana, a tower symbolising the city of Turin
  • 0,01 € The Castel del Monte, a 13th-century castle in Andria

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