Silvio (Alberto Sordi) is an Italian partisan, he and his companions belong to Italian resistance movement fighting against the Nazis. They are at Lake Como. He is helped by Elena (Lea Massari). He spends three months ...展开hiding in Elena's grandfather's mill. They fall in love. Silvio is an idealist, communist, journalist writer. He goes back to war.
The film spans the story of Italy from 1944 to 1960, from the times of poverty in World War II to the birth of the Italian Republic, the elections and Silvio's ideals of the Italian Communist Party, his stay in jail, his disappointments, his crises with Elena, his attempts to get his works published and to sell his film scripts in Cinecittà to Alessandro Blasetti, Silvana Mangano and Vittorio Gassman (they appear as themselves).