Vincenzo Chironi sets foot for the first time on the island of Sardinia - 'a raft in the middle of the Mediterranean' - in 1943, a year of famine and malaria. All he has with him is an old document as proof of his name and date of birth, but to find out who he really is he has had to undertake an even more stressful journey than the one he has just faced in the steamer from mainland Italy to Sardinia. At Núoro he will find his grandfather, a master blacksmith, who will act as a substitute father but also as an accomplice to him, and his aunt Marianna, who greets the unexpected arrival of a previously unknown nephew as an opportunity to redeem a life previously afflicted by misfortune.
Years later, when the presence of Vincenzo Chironi in Núoro seems to have become taken for granted, as natural as the sea and rocks, his blood asserts itself. Vincenzo meets Cecilia, a beautiful girl with eyes of an undefinable shade who is a wartime refugee from elsewhere in Sardinia, and falling in love seems the only course open to either of them. Never mind that she is already engaged to Nicola, a boy with whom Vincenzo is indirectly connected by marriage through his aunt Marianna . . . Even if it may be a fact that "disobedience must involve punishment", it may also be true that love cannot avoid adding the latest link to an endless chain.