The film, shot in Neapolitan dialect at the behest of the director, offers a variety of episodes from the stories most characteristic of the work of Giovanni Boccaccio, and are linked through a pupil of the painter Giotto (played by Pasolini himself) who arrives in Naples to paint a mural.
In the first episode, Andreuccio of Perugia is cheated by a Neapolitan and dropped in a trough of excrement. The young man is found in the pulp by two thieves who are attempting a coup at a nearby church to steal the jewels from the tomb of a bishop who died a few days earlier. Andreuccio is persuaded and, with a brilliant ruse, manages to steal for himself the most beautiful ring of the deceased.
In the second episode, a young man, Masetto da Lamporecchio, is encouraged by some nuns in a convent to have sex with them. In fact, the young man already had this idea, pretending to be deaf and dumb. But the sisters prove insatiable, and the young man finally breaks his silence to protest that he cannot keep up with their demands. The mother prioress declares his sudden ability to speak a miracle from God, but this is merely an excuse to keep the young man at the convent.
In the third episode, the commoner Peronella makes a cuckold of her dimwitted husband. While she is having sex with a lover, her husband unexpectedly comes home for a holiday. The other man hides in a large pot while the husband reveals that he has a buyer for the pot with him. Peronella quickly says that she already has a buyer and that he's inspecting the pot. The husband accepts this and goes to the pot room where the stranger says the inside of the pot is dirty. The wife tells the husband to clean it before selling it, and while he is inside the pot, his wife and her lover loudly and passionately copulate next to it. The husband remains oblivious.