Lampedusa. The present day.
Pasquale, 13, is the head of a small band of children who hunt birds in their spare time, and defend “their” territory from rival gangs.
Like most of his fellow Lampedusans, Pasquale spends his evenings in Via Roma, the main street, that he and his mates use as a race track for acrobatics with their Vespas. And pull girls.
Pasquale’s one acknowledged boss is his father, Pietro. A generous but violent man who is loved and feared. His mother, Grazia, is considered to be extravagant by the rest of her family. She refuses to be dominated but that is not an advantage on Lampedusa where everyone always keeps an eye on what she’s up to. Pasquale is ashamed of her being different to the other mothers but defends and protects her from growing pressure from her peers and her husband who wants to take her to a mental hospital in Milan.
Pasquale decides to hide his mother in a cave and make the villagers believe she has committed suicide. Of course he does not realise that an immediate search of the surrounding waters will begin.
It is the night of Saint Bartolo and all the children of Lampedusa build bonfires on the sea shore to honour the island’s patron. By the light of the bonfires, the villagers see there is something strange in the water...