Donata Mocenigo is the daughter of a wealthy noble in the city of Venice. However, she longs for freedom and feels entrapped by the rules and etiquette that she is expected to adhere to. Eventually, she hatches a cunning scheme for her to masquerade as a beggar boy and explore the city, with her twin sister covering up for her at home.
However, before she is able to get far, she injures herself and is aided by a Jewish boy named Noe, who allows her to pay off her debt to him by helping him copy handbills at a printer's shop. This goes on for about a month and Donata begins to fall in love with Noe. At the same time, she is able to convince her father at home to allow her to join her brothers in their classes and she receives a basic education alongside them.
According to Venetian tradition, only the eldest daughter of the family gets married and the younger ones are sent to convents to become nuns. Fearing such a fate, Donata and Laura, the second and third daughters of their family, desperately wish to find themselves husbands so they can avoid a life in the convent. One night, their father announces that he has managed to find two husbands: one for the eldest daughter and the other for Donata to reward her for her hard work at home.
However, Donata cannot bring herself to take credit for Laura's hard work and has also realized her feelings for Noe. This leads her to hatch a plan to get involved in a scandal by renouncing Christianity for Judaism, thereby causing her to be withdrawn from the marriage plan and allowing Laura to take her place. Her plan succeeds, but her father also reveals that her tutor has been petitioning at the University of Padua for Donata to further her studies in philosophy there. This leaves Donata ecstatic and she resolves to become a tutor to other girls of nobility such as herself in the future.