Why should this be surprising?
Only in the context of how Italian was spoken by all (except tourists) in Milan where I had the privilege to attend a conference at a new university built on the former Pirelli factory.
On the morning before my conference started, several others and I were taken around the city on a free walking tour (google Frog Walking Tour) by a graduate of the Milan State University. He impressed on us how Italians love their language.
Everywhere I went Italian was being spoken by people who might appear to be foreigners in Milan.
At the restaurant where my new Italian professor friend took me, the owner is Italian but all his staff are ethnic Chinese. But they spoke impeccable Italian.
Around the Duomo I found several beggars: an old lady with twisted ankles and walking stick, several younger people just sleeping with signs in Italian, people selling knick-knacks for pocket money, etc. Incidentally these older ladies with twisted ankles and walking stick (and begging cup) seem to be at every Duomo I came across. (They also look remarkably alike. Clones?)
Even the beggars spoke Italian.
This is a very strange experience to me. The only time I visited a place where I understood everything that was being said was in Guangzhou where everyone spoke either Cantonese (my mother tongue) or Mandarin (which of course I learned in school). I cannot tell you how exhilarating it felt to know exactly what people around me were talking about.
I have never got that feeling in Singapore, Jakarta, Amsterdam or London, all those cities where I've worked. And the many more cities I had visited for work or pleasure.
In north-west London where I now live, I could walk past 10 people between house and station and chances are they would be speaking Gujarati, Arabic, Polish, Romanian or some other East/European language rather than English. I can feel very 'lost' linguistically in any English city.
In Singapore, due to our language policy there will almost certainly be someone speaking a different language or dialect which I won't understand.
So my recent Italian sojourn had been very interesting that way. And I suspect that should I decide to take up residence any where in Italy I will soon be speaking the language too.
The ridiculous situation in London re: Uber drivers and English