From the Middle Ages to the 19th century Tuscan was principally a written and literary language, thus it is literature which best allows us to understand the history of Italian. Stemming from subtle Sicilian poetry, the "new art of fine writing" seduced artists from the centre of Italy and from the large towns of Tuscany. The Tuscan dialect began to take over in the 14th century because of its central position, its commercial dynamism and its wealth, but above all because of the works of three major Florentines: Dante, Boccace and Petrarca. In the 16th century Italian culture was flourishing in Europe, where Italian became a sign of refinement and distinction, and the 'Questione della lingua' reemerged with force. The passionate quarrels between archaists and modernists did not subside until the 19th century when the Milanese Manzoni decided to rewrite his novel 'The Fiancés' in 1842 after his stay in Florence, and succeeded in establishing a compromise - accepted by the Accademia della Crusca - between classical purism and modern Tuscan usage. Spoken Italian with Tuscan roots spread more extensively in Italy with the popular "Pinocchio" by Collodi, then with the media boom of the 20th century. Spoken today by 70 million people throughout the world, the language of Dante is also that of a huge industrial power on both a European and international scale.
Classification by family: Indo-European>Latin>Eastern Roman>Old Italian>Italian