13 February 2001
The nobleman Franco Maironi is sailing over Lake Lugano together with his beloved Luisa. Luisa is from a bourgeois family and therefore marrying her would mean going outside his social class. But this is be no problem for the courageous young Italian patriot. After all, he's not afraid to openly express his political views in the house of his strict grandmother Orsola. And she's not at all happy about his views. His grandmother is a passionate supporter of the Austrian authorities and is a good friend of several influential Austrian officers. But now Franco has forgotten all the political arguments at home. He can think only of Luisa and confesses his love for her. But then the two lovers are startled by the sound of shots coming from nearby. Franco sees a man who is being pursued by the police take shelter in some underbrush. He gets hit by a bullet! Franco suspects that this must an Italian patriot fleeing from the Austrian police. So Franco helps the injured man (Rampelli) and hides him, first in the house of his grandmother and then in Luisa's house where it is safer. In the meantime Orsola has big plans for her grandson Franco. She wants to make a match for him with the young noblewoman Carolina and gives a ball where they are to meet. But even when dancing with Carolina, Franco can think only of Luisa. He does notice, however, that his grandmother seems to be constantly talking to an Austrian officer named Greisberg. Concerned for the safety of Rampelli, Franco just leaves Carolina standing there alone in the middle of the dance floor and dashes off to Luisa... After he once again helps Rampelli to flee, Franco decides to marry Luisa that very night. His grandmother will never be able to split them up now! They are married secretly at night in a little church and the only guests are Teresa (Luisa's mother), her uncle Piero and Professor Gilardoni. Newly married, Franco and Luisa visit his intimidating grandmother the next morning. She's thunderstruck by this awful news and immediately disinherits Franco. She even threatens to make it impossible to ever get employment in their region.... Luisa's uncle Piero, however, is willing to help the young couple. He lets them live in his house and supports them until Franco can find work... In the meantime Professor Gilardoni has brought important news for Franco: His grandmother had suppressed the will of Franco's father, but the professor has managed to get a copy. Franco is the main heir! But instead of being overjoyed at his sudden wealth, Franco refuses to accept the inheritance because all of the money came from the hated Austrians. Without considering the consequences for himself and Luisa, he demands that Gilardoni destroy the will... The young couple enjoys furnishing their pretty little room in her uncle's house. But what makes Franco happiest of all is the fact that Luisa is pregnant. But when a few months later Rampelli is arrested, Orsola finally sees an opportunity to create big trouble for her hated daughter-in-law. She suggest to the police that they interrogate Luisa. But before her guilt can be proved Greisberg intervenes. Although he knows perfectly well that Luisa and Franco had hidden Rampelli from the police, he doesn't want to make their difficult situation even worse... A few days after the birth of his little daughter Maria, Franco and some of his friends attempt to liberate Rampelli. But they arrive too late: Rampelli has already died from his wounds. After a wild shoot-out Franco manages to escape, but with a bullet wound... And again it is the officer Greisberg who saves the young couple from disaster. He gives Franco his freedom... Then Uncle Piero surprises the family with terrible news: He's lost his job because the police found revolutionary pamphlets in his house. Now Franco will have to support his family all by himself and find work despite the intrigues of his grandmother. The Maironi family lives in bitter poverty. Their only source of income is selling their furniture. Tense and restless, Franco has been simply unable to find work. His moodiness is a considerable burden for Luisa and his daughter Maria. One day Franco comes to the point that he tells Luisa about his inheritance. But this just makes the gulf between them even greater. Luisa simply can't understand why he won't accept the inheritance. They could have such a carefree life. Professor Gilardoni, however, didn't destroy the will after all and without telling Franco, he visits Orsola, But even though she is stunned, Orsola is unwilling to even discuss the will and has Gilardoni thrown out of her house. Gilardoni tells Luisa about his visit to the grandmother. Luisa is shocked. Now Orsola is certain to think that she and Franco want to blackmail her. When Franco accidentally learns from his daughter about Gilardoni's visit to his grandmother, he assumes that this had been his wife's doing. The resentment which has been building up for years now all comes out... When Greisberg manages to talk Franco into visiting his grandmother, she makes him an offer: She is willing to give him and his family 8,000 Lire per year. But Franco is too proud to accept the money---he's not willing to sell his ideals. At home, the arguments between Luisa and Franco become more and more fierce until, finally, Franco goes of to Turin where he is able to earn some money. It is in this period that the two of them write each other many letters and are gradually reconciled. Luisa and her daughter are still living in bitter poverty. And so, Luisa finally decides she has no choice but to go against her husband's principles and demand money from the will. But before she can, something horrible happens. Little Maria drowns one day when no one was supervising her play. Luisa is completely unable to deal with the shock and blames herself---Maria had to die because she hadn't watched over her carefully enough. After receiving the dreadful news, Franco hurries home. He only reaches the house late at night. Luisa is still tortured by guilt and Franco is unable to calm her. Even the funeral doesn't help her get over her sorrow. She simply refuses to accept that her child is no longer alive. Even the otherwise so hard-hearted grandmother feels miserable. She's tortured by nightmares in which little Maria appears to her and accuses her of murder. Orsola calls the priest and wants to clear her conscience before she dies. She also calls Franco to her bedside because she wants him to inherit everything. But Franco is bitter and refuses the inheritance. Without forgiving her, he leaves his grandmother to die alone in her big house. War against Austria is about to break out. Back in Turin again, Franco writes to Luisa that he intends to fight alongside the Italian troops. But before he goes to war Luisa visits him in his hotel. All of a sudden, everything is the way it was before, when they were young and in love. Luisa forgets her sorrow over Maria and seems to come to life again. And Franco too seems to find new courage and vitality. They've re-discovered their love for each other just in the moment when life will tear them apart again. But Franco goes off to fight for his country with new strength and Luisa promises to wait for him---along with his child. Luisa is pregnant again.
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