In the last few blogs about Italian pronunciation I mentioned in reply to some comments that the Italian language has its origins in Toscana (Tuscany) and that Toscano is considered the most correct Italian. But are Italiano and Toscano the same thing? Lets see.
When Italy was being unified in the 19th century there wasn’t a common Italian language just a collection of regional languages such as Piemontese, Lombardo, Siciliano, Toscano, Napoletano, Romanesco, etc. all derived from Latin, and all to various degrees influenced by other languages such as the Arabic, Spanish, French, Longobard, etc. So with the unification of the country there was a need for a common language, but which one, something completely new, or one of the languages that already existed? The second choice prevailed and soon Toscano, and in particular the language spoken in Firenze (Florence), was identified as the most probable candidate. There were three main reasons behind this choice: 1. Out of all the neo-Latin languages, including those from other countries, Toscano is the closest to Latin. 2. Geographically Toscana is at the center of the Italian peninsula. 3. The first great Italian writers of the 13th and 14th centuries, Dante, Boccaccio and Petrarca, were all from Tuscany. The final stroke came from Alessandro Manzoni, writer of the first Italian novel, I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), who in 1827 went to Firenze “a lavare i panni in Arno” (to wash the clothes in the river Arno), meaning that he was going to check the language of his novel against Toscano and remove all the Lombard influences.