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The artists' quarter in Rome is the Via Margutta where many aspiring artists seek to gain recognition. Stefano, a dedicated but unsuccessful painter, shares his misery and bitterness with actress Donata, until Pippo, a homosexual antique dealer, organizes an exhibition for him and secretly buys several of his paintings. When Stefano learns that Pippo has been sponsoring him, he commits suicide. Giosué, another artist, decides to end the struggle for success and marries Greta, a wealthy German tourist 20 years his senior. Marta, a beautiful singer, spends her time flitting from one love affair to another. Marco Belli sells his own paintings fraudulently signed by Marisa, a peasant housemaid whose suicide attempt had made news headlines. Expatriate American actor Bill Rogers indulges his laziness, occasionally molding a sculpture. One artist and his girl friend decide to leave, but his place is soon taken by a newcomer, filled with optimism about his future on the Via Margutta.