The young priest Don Giulio left his first parish on the small Italian island of Ponza. Here he spent ten happy years: he shared the joys and sorrows of the villagers, was their friend and advisor. His new church is located in a middle-class district of Rome, where his parents, brothers and sisters and his old friends from their student days also live. Here, too, he hopes to be able to help the people, but his optimism is soon destroyed. Not even his closest relatives can save him from disaster: his father leaves the family because of a younger woman, and his mother commits suicide. Finally, Don Giulio resigns and is transferred to a remote village in the mountains, where he hopes to be useful.