Swiss Italian

Swiss Italian

Swiss Italian is the name given to the idiom used for official communication and in writing in the Swiss canton of Ticino and in the southern part of Graubünden, which most resembles the Standard Italian language.

Official status

Although Italian is an official language at the federal level in Switzerland, and the third most spoken language in the Swiss Confederation today, the Swiss constitution provides that the Cantons choose their own official languages, and Italian is an official language of only Ticino and Graubünden.

Population and distribution

Some 500,000 Swiss speak the Italian language or some variation of it, or 7% of the population. Italian is the main language in all areas of the canton of Ticino, but only in a few areas of the canton of Graubünden (about 15% of the population of Graubünden speaks Italian). These areas together make up what is known as Italian Switzerland (or "Svizzera Italiana").

Dialects and variation

Western lombard dialects often predominate in older generations and in rural areas, and unlike in parts of Italy there is no social stigma attached to them. Ticinese is the largest of these.


Italian is used by the canton governments wherever it is the main language. Radiotelevisione Svizzera di lingua Italiana is the main Swiss public broadcasting network in Italian. The University of Lugano (Università della Svizzera Italiana) is the major university of Italian Switzerland.


* [ The Swiss Constitution, article 70, "Languages"]
* [ RTSI Official site] it icon

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