Bored with the tedium of her life, middle-aged housewife Rosalba (Maglietta) decides to hitchhike home after a tour bus carrying her family leaves her stranded at a roadside cafe. Instead of waiting there as instructed by her selfish husband (Catania), Rosalba hitches her way to Venice, where she finally indulges in a vacation of her own. Soon, she has befriended Fernando (Ganz), a melancholic waiter and poet from Iceland whose quiet dignity and kindness help restore her zest for life.
Referencing earlier films like "Summertime," Soldini's breezy, romantic story of a neglected wife rebelling against the constraints of her life may not be totally original, but with its gorgeous locale, tender charm, and a sultry, knowing performance by Maglietta, it goes down as easy as fresh baked bread and a glass of Chianti. Italians ate it up, too, garlanding "Tulips" with a slew of Donatello awards (their version of the Oscars). The ever-intriguing Ganz is restrained but likable here, too, as a gentle man who introduces Rosalba to a host of eccentrics — and a whole new way to live. For a welcome change of pace, dig into "Bread and Tulips."