Vacationing with her parents at the seaside in Rimini, Italy, young Nicole Steiner falls in love with a charming Italian nobleman. Soon after, Dario Ventura frequently visits with the Steiners in Turin. Though he returns her affection, Nicole begins to suspect that he has become her mother's lover. The relationship is complicated by the strong tie between mother and daughter, and Nicoles's rejection of her stern father.
Woven through the tale is the rich atomsphere of pre-war Italy.