I heard that the 3 Nino Ricci novels which this movie was based on, were very popular, but before this movie I'd never heard about them. This movie is about the life of Innocente family, in the span of twenty years. After WW2, Cristina Innocente lives with her boy Vittorio and sister-in-law Teresa (played by Sophia Loren) in Valle del Sole. The villagers don't like Cristina because of her free spirit and make lots of gossips about her, especially after she is pregnant again while her husband is away overseas. Cristina takes Vittorio with her to join her lover but she dies on the ship to America after giving birth to a baby girl. Vittorio and the baby are taken by Cristina's husband to Canada, where Teresa will join them.
The Italian scenes are beautiful. Beautiful Sabrina Ferilli plays an convincing Cristina. There is a lovely scene where she happily dances with Vittorio, ignoring the villagers who dislike her. I don't know who is more sinful: the adulterous Cristina or the villagers who have planted hatred inside their heart against her and therefore make her and Vittorio suffer. The opening scene is also lovely: Cristina returns home from the forest with a bouquet of flowers in one hand while another hand picking up cherries from her skirt (which she uses to wrap them) to her mouth.
About the title: little Vittorio is given a book named 'Lives of the Saints' by aunt Teresa. Two Santas are mentioned: Santa Cristina, a girl with an iron-will who did anything to keep her faith; and Santa Rita, the patron for impossible causes. Vittorio will name his little sister 'Rita'.