Can Modern Italian in Rome understand Ancient Roman Latin?

My grandmother, who had a degree in classics, once asked for directions in Rome, in Latin. The response, in English, which has become a (possibly apocryphal) family legend, was: “Madam, we stopped speaking that language 2000 years ago.”
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A friend of mine who grew up speaking Italian with his grandparents visited Rome. At the first shop he went into he spoke Italian and the proprietor responded in English, "So, what part of Chicago are you from?"

We are all very impressed that American-Italian accents are that distinct.

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