Italy has served as the center for Western art and music for the past 1500 years. As a result, the Italian impact on these subjects has been immeasurable and many Italian words and phrases like chiaroscuro, fresco, and cupola have made their way into the standard vocabulary of art and architecture. Italian has also been called the language of music, since all dynamic, rhythmic and other compositional markings are in Italian. A sizeable amount of operas were also written in Italian, making the study of the language a core subject for opera singers, composers, and aficionados.
If your interest in Italy doesn't take a musical or artistic bent, consider this:
Italy's communication, technology and manufacturing industries are all still developing and in great need of technicians, computer software experts, management, and consultants who speak Italian. American companies like IBM and AT&T are taking advantage of the budding Italian telecommunications, wireless connection, Internet and cable television markets and will be in need of employees who are comfortable speaking and working in both English and Italian. Italian is one of several romance languages, meaning that common roots in Latin enable a student of Italian to understand and acquire other romance languages much more readily. Also, knowledge of Italian translates into a deeper knowledge of English since an estimated 60% of English words also have their origins in Latin. Italy is one of the G8 countries, is a member of NATO, the EU and the UN, and has the 6th largest economy in the world; if you're interested in pursuing international business or politics, Italian is one language that will serve you well. Italian is the seventh most spoken foreign language in the United States; an estimated 1 million Americans speak it at home.