The sleepy red-roofed Italian island of Anapoli, its lazy, leaning buildings pushed against the jagged harbour, dreams on peaceably by the sea. It is here that Tom Patch, an easy-going British artist, finds himself, discarding his mistress and in love with Cecilia. Even the Mayor of Anapoli basks in the sun, listening to goat bells and the rasp of mandolins. But above the unsuspecting residents hangs a malevolent volcano; a terrible destructive power seething below its crust. And the volcano is about to blow.