Director Franco Zeffirelli's romantic tale of thwarted love in 19th century Italy. In 1854 in the Sicilian town of Catania there is an epidemic of cholera. As a result novice nun Maria is temporarily released from her convent and joins her family on their summer holiday at Mount Etna. Whilst there Maria falls in love with the son of family friends, Nino, who confesses undying devotion for her. However Maria's jealous stepmother insists that Maria return to the convent. Maria returns but finds it impossible to forget Nino.