In 1849, in the Independent Republic of Rome, Cristina, the wife of the marquis Eufemio is in love with Giovanni Livraghi, a Milanese of noble birth. Giovanni is an Austrian defector and fights against the French army besieging Rome together with his friend, the priest Ugo Bassi who opposes the temporal powers of Pope Pius IX. During a crucial battle, Livraghi is wounded and is saved from Eufemio. When the French capture Rome, all the front liners try to leave to reach Venice. Cristina, unaware of the fact that Eufemio had saved the life of Livraghi, follows Giovanni. But many of the Republicans are apprehended from Austria and put to death. Livraghi, Bassi, Ciceruacchio and his son among them. Cristina and his husband seek refuge in Piemonte to keep on the struggle against the Austrians.