The story begins in Sicily where Giovanni is preparing to leave the island and head north for compulsory military service in Bolzano. Prior to departure, her meets a cousin who wants him to emigrate to Australian and go into business. Arriving in Bolzano five days early, Giovanni is forced to kill some time in the town. He meets Lordana who entices him to follow her to Cortina, leaving him stranded without cash. The journey through Tuscany to Rome and on to Venice is characterized by brushes with friends and strangers who open his eyes to the cynicism of the world around him. Finally, fate steps in to help him make a choice when he sees a freighter named Australia preparing to set sail.