At his father's funeral, a young physician, Nikolaus von Himsel, saves a forgetful Death from public embarrassment. In reward, Death promises him – a quick and painless departure from life. By refusing her gift, the physician offends Death and is punished by endless emptiness in his soul. Nikolaus has no choice but to go on a grand tour in order to find a medicine. On the road, he makes friends with Lawrence Mills – his exact opposite – a carefree pleasure seeker. Together they encounter different people and learn unusual ways of filling emptiness. One day they attempt to ascend Vesuvius.