When the Italian musician Giacomo Carissimi hears about up-time music in Grantville he sets off across the Alps to see and hear these wonders. Nothing will keep him from his dream of learning the new music and seeing new instruments, not even warring militias and the threats of plague.
He eventually makes his way to the fabled wonderland of Grantville. Carissimi thinks he's in heaven as he discovers amazing new musical instruments—especially the piano—and meets musicians from the future. He spends hours and days and weeks and months earning the music and the techniques brought back in the Ring of Fire, burning his candle at both ends so hard he almost consumes himself. Along the way the young Italian also makes new and exciting friends.
But just as he is thinking he has it all, Carissimi discovers that both the music and the relationships are harder and more challenging than he'd ever expected. In the end, only his superb talent can sustain him.