The standard Italian of today originated in the beautiful Tuscan region during the Middle Ages. This particular regional dialect may be best evidenced in the epic literature of Dante Alighieri.
Although the general population of Italy on a daily basis tends to use the many regional dialects that distinguish Italian, the written standard of Italian has tended to be very formal and divorced from those dialects. Nevertheless, because of regional differences, Italian names demonstrate a wide range of variation.
Italian, as a member of the Romance branch of the Indo-European language family, is based on the Latin language which actually originated in Latium, a region surrounding the Tiber river in what is now Italy. The historical use of Latin for religious, academic, and educational purposes is a major reason for the formality of literary Italian. Literary Italian, then, is the most direct descendent of Latin today.