This article gives a critical overview of the main results of the survey Italiano 2000, carried out by the University of Siena on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to check the state of the art of the diffusion of the Italian language abroad. The survey did analyse the trends in the learning of Italian between 1995 and 2000 on a sample of 63 Italian Institutes for Culture. The growing in the number of students over that period of time was significant (+38%), but not uniform, whereas the increase in the number of teachers was lagging behind (+9%). In fact, the supply does not seem yet up to meet a potentially fast growing demand. The relevance of Italian as a language of culture, a deeper consciousness of its roots by the Italian diaspora, the new industrial and economic role of Italy, and its sudden transition from its status of emigrating to a one of immigrating country have been singled out among the determinants of the growing expansion of the Italian language.