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Throughout Italy, regional variations of Standard Italian, called Regional Italian, are spoken. In Italy, almost all Romance languages are spoken as the vernacular—other than standard Italian and distantly-related, non-Romance languages spoken in border regions or among immigrant communities—are often imprecisely called “Italian dialects“,[71] even though they are quite different, with some belonging to different branches of the Romance language family. The only exceptions to this are SardinianLadin and Friulian, which are officially recognized as distinct minority languages by the law. On the other hand, Corsican (a language spoken on the Frenchisland of Corsica) is closely related to Tuscan, from which Standard Italian derives and evolved.

The differences in the evolution of Latin in the different regions of Italy can be attributed to the presence of three other types of languages: substrata, superstrata, and adstrata. The most prevalent were substrata (the language of the original inhabitants), as the Italian dialects were most likely simply Latin as spoken by native cultural groups. Superstrata and adstrata were both less important. Foreign conquerors of Italy that dominated different regions at different times left behind little to no influence on the dialects. Foreign cultures with which Italy engaged in peaceful relations with, such as trade, had no significant influence either.[22]:19-20

Regional differences can be recognized by various factors: the openness of vowels, the length of the consonants, and influence of the local language (for example, in informal situations the contraction annà replaces andare in the area of Rome for the infinitive “to go”; and nare is what Venetians say for the infinitive “to go”).