Maria, a middle aged woman, lives in an old house on the Amalfi coast. She is tormented by regrets for past dreams never fulfilled and a hopeless present. The basic inspiration for her whole life has been love for her family.
First, it was her love for Gigi, an ex-English journalist who became a fisherman just to live with her and be her husband.
Then it was love for her three children. She brought them up in the house of geraniums – the geraniums that keep growing in the cracks in the wall left by an earthquake years before – but as soon as they became adults, they flew away from the nest, leaving Maria alone in the house overlooking the enchanted scenery of the Sorrento peninsula.
Her husband now lives on his fishing boat, her children are far away. One day, Maria decides to make an ultimate attempt to get the family together again for the party she will throw on her mother’s name day. Francesco, the most brilliant of her kids, has chosen to live in New York, with a foreign wife, too snobby for Maria, a creature from another planet, with whom she cannot communicate. Mario, her second son, is a good peaceful doctor, with two kids and a young modern wife to whom family ties are a burden. Miriam is Maria’s third child.
She wastes her best years running after exotic and wild fashions, with partners who are nothing but rootless boys. All the people Maria loves are distant from her, living controversial and unhappy lives. Maria thinks the family reunion in the house of their childhood on the balcony with the geraniums will help restore family ties with the complicity of the wonderful sky and the perfumes of homemade cooking.
Maria prepares for this party with many fears and very few hopes. She begins to believe all her love, all her efforts, all the days of her life dedicated to her loved ones have been forgotten. Her husband, disappointed with a wife who is mostly a mother, is looking for something to give meaning to his life. He looks for other interests outside their home, getting involved in politics, and perhaps in affairs as well.
Maria is sick with depression. Only when her children come back home for the party, each one with a problem, shall Maria find out that they still need her. This will give her the strength to fight for her family again.