Being the rich language it is, Italian has a lot of ways to say, well, “a lot,” or “a ton,” “totally,” “piles of…” For me, the main ones that come to mind are: cifra, botto, bordello, mucchio, and sacco.
Una cifra is used primarily in Rome. In regular Italian, a cifra is a cipher, a numerical figure/digit, or a code. Basically something to do with digits. So I can only assume it has come to mean ‘many’ or ‘a lot’ by its association with numbers.
‘Aò bello! Ti sei divertito alla partita della Roma??’ – Aò bello! Did you have fun at the Roma game?
‘Sì! ‘na cifra!’ – Yea! Totally!
Un botto is used all over Italy, and literally means a knock, or a thud. Perhaps the suddenness or the shock you get from ‘a lot’ of something, is how the word came to be used in that sense.
‘Un botto di Italiani indossano scarpe di Hogan.’ – A lot of Italians wear Hogans shoes.
Un bordello in Italian is a brothel. How the word for brothel came to mean ‘ a lot,’ is beyond my own understanding. Maybe some of Young in Rome’s loyal readers can shine some light on this one…
‘Ci sono un bordello di tursiti a Roma.’ – There are a ton of tourists in Rome.
This word takes me back to Italian 1, because it’s one of the few things I really remembering learning that semester, apart from learning that “Andrea” is a man’s name in Italy… A mucchio means a heap or pile.
‘Non lavoro molto, pero guadagno un mucchio di soldi.’ – I don’t work much, but I earn a lot of money.
Literally meaning a sack, or a bag, sacco is also used to talk about a lot of something. This one is pretty easy to get: a sack of something, a lot.
‘Ti voglio un sacco di bene!’ – I like you a lot. (Best said in a Jim Carrey from Dumb and Dumber voice.)