It is the 19th century in Italy, and Maria (Angela Bettis) has joined a convent in order to explore her strong feeling that she has a calling to become a nun. She has adapted to live at the convent quite nicely, and is relatively untroubled, but a cholera outbreak sends her back to be with her family for a while, near the steaming peak of Mount Etna. She enjoys her freedom to move around the countryside, and is wooed (unsuccessfully, it seems) by a charming young man named Nico, but returns to the convent when the danger is past. There, she is troubled by the thought that she truly loved Nico, and that her calling may not be as firm as she thought. When she learns that Nico has married her sister, she nearly goes mad with self-recrimination, but eventually weathers the storm. All the dialog in this Italian-made film by Franco Zeffirelli is in English.
by Clarke Fountain synopsis