Italian is spoken from about 70 million people in 29 countries which are mainly located in Southern Europe.
The language derives directly from Latin, through a simplification of the grammar of the spoken, popular Latin. The first standardisation of Italian dates back to the 14th century with Dante Alighieri's Commedia. In this poem, Dante used a written dialect which was the union of southern Italian dialects and his native Tuscan. Thanks to the popularity of the Commedia, which was read all over Italy, the language used in the poem became a canonical standard that everyone could understand.
Modern Italian can be considered a single language made up of different dialects. Italian dialects are mainly divided into two groups, according to the geographical area in which they are spoken. We can identify the so-called northern dialects (like Piemontese, Milanese) and the central-Southern dialects (Laziale, Cicolano-Reatino). Each of them includes many different sub-dialects, almost one per city. In some regions, like Sardinia, they speak a dialect so different from standard Italian that it is considered a separate language. The Tuscan dialect is considered as the pure and classic Italian.
Italian grammar is quite complex. Just to make an example, let's consider nouns. Nouns vary according to gender (masculine, ending in o and feminine, ending in a) and number (singular or plural). Unfortunately, there are lots of irregular nouns and nouns that are only masculine or feminine. Sometimes, the only way of making your way through Italian nouns is to look them up in the dictionary, as neither a mother tongue could be of help.
But why wasting your time studying grammar in your textbook? The best way to learn a language is go to the country where it is spoken. So, during your stay in Italy, you might meet a "boccalone" (a big mouth) which will spend a few minutes having "due chiacchere" (a few words) with you and later will introduce to you a wonderful Italian women or man who "vi fara perdere la testa" (will drive you crazy) so that "vi metterete insieme" (you will start a relationship) and you will end up being a perfect bilingual, with less work for your brain and more pleasure for your sight.