Thirteen-year-old Pasquale 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 on Via Roma, the main street that he and his mates use as a racetrack for performing acrobatic stunts with their Vespas. Pasquale's one acknowledged boss is his father, Pietro, a generous but violent man who is both loved and feared. His mother, Grazia, is considered to be extravagant by the rest of her family. She refuses to be dominated, however that is not an advantage in Lampedusa where everyone always keeps an eye on what she's doing. Pasquale is ashamed of his mother being different from the other mothers, but defends and protects her from the growing pressure from her peers and her husband, as everyone wants to take her to a mental hospital in Milan, where they think she can get cured.