It tells the story of a nun, Sister Caterina (Margherita Buy), on the point of taking her final vows, who is presented with a foundling child by a jogger. Sister Caterina makes some effort to identify the mother by the sweater the baby is wrapped in, and this clue leads her to Ernesto Nitti (Silvio Orlando), the lonely and emotionally bottled-up proprietor of a dry-cleaning establishment in Milan. Both the nun and the dry-cleaner are drawn into a complex emotional attachment to the child—and to each other—which threatens to explode the carefully-constructed lives they have built for themselves.
In a Hollywood movie, they would naturally set up housekeeping together and adopt the child, but Hollywood would consider the sister's religious vocation no obstacle at all. Here it is central to the film's meaning, not only because Sister Caterina is wavering between the cloister and the world, and the baby comes to represent for her all that she is giving up, but also because Ernesto, an atheist, is fascinated by it. “Is it true you get a call?” he asks her shyly. Hard as her choice seems to her, he envies her having it at all. “Sometimes you can't choose,” he says. More generally, he wonders what it means to believe. “Say God exists,” he says. “Why all this bowing and praying? Why all this exaggerated love?”
“Because love is exaggerated,” answers Sister Caterina. “Have you ever loved someone without exaggeration?” Ernesto has nothing to say to this. We can actually see him wondering if he has ever loved anyone at all.