The film is set in the summer of 1965. It tells the story of Francesca, a lonely, insightful Italian Iowa housewife. While her husband and children are away at the Illinois State Fair, she meets and falls in love with a photographer who has come to Madison County, Iowa to create a photographic essay for National Geographic on the covered bridges in the area. The four days they spend together are a turning point in her life and she writes of her experience in a diary which is discovered by her children after her death.

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