I have been learning Italian here since they started back in January or so. I am still very inept at speaking it but I have become quite good at reading it. So I would say yes its very good for learning the basics of Italian.
I think DuoLingo is a perfect supplement for learning italian.
It is fantastic for learning new vocabulary and practicing verb conjugation.
BUT I can't imagine if I had tried to begin learning here without first learning how verbs and sentence structure work.