The month of August is traditionally when Italians take their summer holidays. Many businesses close for two weeks around Ferragosto on 15th August, an Italian national holiday. Often employees are required to take some of their annual leave around this time.
The cities can be quieter at this time of year, as many Italians go to the beach, mountains or countryside in Italy or take trips abroad. During my time living in Italy, I spent many summer months visiting Italian coastal towns around Rome and Naples and can confirm they’re definitely very busy in August.
In today’s language lesson we’re going to look at ways to describe a place as being busy or crowded. We’ll also look at some idiomatic expressions around this topic.
Persona / Gente
Let’s start with some simple examples:
Ci sono molte persone qui – there are many people here
C’è molta gente qui – there are many people here
These sentences both have the same meaning but use different words to express the word ‘people’. The first is ‘la persona’ which means person in the singular, and ‘le persone’ - people in the plural. The second is ‘la gente’. This is a singular noun with a plural meaning. It means ‘people’ but is used with a singular article (la) and a singular verb (c’è).
Il bar è sempre pieno d’estate – The coffee shop is always busy in the summer
This sentence uses the word ‘pieno’ which literally means ‘full’ to express that there are lots of people in the coffee shop. You could change ‘pieno’ to ‘strapieno’ which would mean ‘jam-packed’. Alternatively, you could use the expression ‘pieno zeppo’, which means ‘packed’ or ‘full’. Both of these are quite informal, see examples here:
L’albergo è strapieno – The hotel is jam-packed
Questo ristorante è pieno zeppo ogni sera – This restaurant is packed every evening
Now let’s look at some sentences using the word ‘crowded:
La spiaggia è sempre così affollata – The beach is always so crowded
The word ‘affollato/a’ comes from the noun ‘la folla’, which means ‘a crowd’. You can see it used here:
C’è una grande folla davanti alla gelateria – There’s a big crowd in front of the ice cream shop
C’è una folla numerosa in fila per la discoteca – There’s a large crowd queuing at the club
In place of ‘una folla’, you could also use ‘una moltitudine’, which means a multitude or a crowd:
Una moltitudine di persone sta prendendo il sole oggi – A crowd of people are sunbathing today
Squashed in like sardines
Finally, I’d like to leave you with an expression you can use. If there are lots of people all packed in or squashed in together, how about saying this?
Eravamo stipati come sardine in quel locale – We were all crammed in like sardines in that bar
Siamo stipati come sardine in questa pizzeria – We are all squashed in like sardines in this pizzeria
I hope this helps you when visiting Italy in August!