This is the true story of Carabinieri (Italian Police) vice-sergeant Salvo D'Acquisto. The story takes place after Mussolini fall (Jul 25th '43) and the armistice (Sept. 8th '43). Italy is occupied by Germans (former allied) and invaded by new Allies (US, UK etc.). Civilians have two options: wait till Allies arrive or participating actively to the 'Resistance'. Many, like socialist Rubino choose the Resistance and run to the mountains to fight Germans. Salvo decides to stay near the population as required by his role. Meanwhile he starts falling in love for Martina. But an accidental explosion kills two German soldiers inside their barracks. Germans decide to take reprisal and going to kill 20 Italians (civilians). At this point Salvo decides to save innocent people by declaring he is the guilty for the explosion. Germans will execute him, and 20 persons are saved. After WWII he received the Gold medal to memory.