March 1945 Asolo, Italy. Livia Mazzion, the attractive wife of a top ministry official, slips into the car of lawyer Ugo Oggiano, Livia's admirer and her husband's informer. Livia must reach Venice and her lover Helmut Schultz, a Wermacht lieutenant, as beautiful and accursed as a pagan god, with whom she is having a burning love affair. During the trip she relives the high points of her devastating sexual abandonment gone adrift, one that has shattered her life and her destiny, swallowing her up in the ruinous vortex of a sybaritic and bituminous Venice. The city, in the throes of the final months of the war, is rife with traffickers, officials, nabobs, military brass, sharks and adventurers of every kind. Yet a surprise awaits Livia upon her arrival in Venice, a surprise in which the heroes' own personal defeats interweave with those public, as historical and political events now seek to settle accounts.