Amid the enchanting streets and edifices of Rome, the film moves back and forth among a series of distinct tales. There is Hayley an American tourist who falls for an attractive young, good-looking, Italian lawyer, committed to earnest left-wing causes, named (what else?) Michelangelo, whose father, an undertaker, is a would-be opera singer (but only in the shower), played by an actual tenor, Fabio Armiliato. Hayley’s father (played by Woody Allen himself) is, well, Woody Allen, a psychologically conflicted New Yorker married to (who else?) a psychiatrist.
Then there is the young newly married, Italian provincial couple, newly arrived in Rome in hope of career-advancement, who, in the course of an single day’s absurdly comic misadventure, acquire an unexpected social-sexual education in the Eternal City. A third plot features Jessie Eisenberg as an aspiring American architect living in Rome with his student girlfriend, being gradually infatuated with his partner’s visiting aspiring-actress friend, while an apparition of a famous architect (played by Alec Baldwin) plays the incarnation of adult, mature rationality.
Finally there is the thoroughly farcical adventure of Leopoldo Pisanello, a run-of-the-mill middle class clerk family man, played by Roberto Benigni, who (briefly) becomes famous for being famous.
It's all somewhat silly, of course, but in another sense quite serious - classic Woody Allen, but without too harsh an edge. And, without giving too much more away, suffice it to say that everything works out for the best in the end.
Meanwhile, the movie moves beautifully through scenes of Rome’s vibrant urban life, evoking the richly dramatic (and at times quite comic) life lives so fully in its streets, its monuments, its palaces, and its ruins.