This story, set in fourteenth-century Tuscany, focuses on two main contrasting characters: Mayor Gianni Curvo and his friend Luigi Lorenzo who live in a small Tuscan hill-top town called 'San Minima'.
Gianni, locally born and bred, and fiercely proud of his civic office, is a die-hard traditionalist, but also a romantic who would love to have been a Knight of the Round Table. The patrician Luigi, a relative newcomer to the town, is more progressive and worldly. The tensions between them provide a rich source of humour, especially when they come up against the Church and Town authorities.
Luigi is a complex figure: he nurtures a secret passion for the beautiful aristocratic nun Angela, and leads a mysterious double life away from the town. The truth gradually emerges with the arrival of Colonel Guido, a figure from his past. And Gianni's own inner life is brought violently to the surface when vicious marauders attack San Minima. Badly injured he believes he is living in the Arthurian Age, an era which has obsessed him since boyhood. It's only the ingenuity of his friends and a strange intervention that bring him back to the present and longed-for Knighthood.