In 1960s Rome, four young delinquents, nicknamed Ice, Lebanese, Dandy and Grand steal a car. Crashing through a police road block, the driver, Grand is crushed by the steering column. Back at their hideout, a small disused caravan near a beach, they are discovered by the police. Ice, Lebanese and Dandy run away, but are captured. Grand, who is mortally wounded, dies in the caravan. Roll opening credits. Some years later, in the 1970s, Ice is released from prison, and met by Lebanese, who tells him he has come up with a plan to kidnap and hold to ransom Baron Rossellini, a wealthy aristocrat whom Lebanese's parents worked for. He has formed a gang with Dandy - they are Black, Bright Eye, Ricotta, Bufalo, Rat and Ciro & Aldo Buffoni. After negotiating the ransom of 3 billion lire, whilst trying to get the Baron to pose for a proof of life, Lebanese shoots him. Nonetheless, they fake the proof of life, and get the 3 billion lire. However, the local Police Commissioner Nicola Scialoja manages to record the serial numbers of the ransom money before the gang receive it, setting out to capture the gang. As the gang divide up the money, Lebanese proposes to split split 500 million lire between them, and use the remaining 2.5 billion to build a foothold in the criminal underworld of Rome, starting with drug dealing. However, the drugs racket is owned by the dealer Terrible, and so the gang wipe his gang out apart from Gemito, who Lebanese bribes to help them. After his home is raided and his body guards killed, Terrible wakes to find Ice, Lebanese and Dandy in his bedroom. Cornered, he reluctantly agrees to let give control of the racket to the gang.
The gang grows in influence and ambition. Rome falls under their rule, and the rule of Lebanese. Dandi meets and becomes enamoured with an upmarket prostitute, Patrizia, who, in order to be kept under the sway of the gang and in order to prevent Dandi becoming involved in brawls provoked by his jealousy, is bought over and given a brothel. Ice, meanwhile falls in love with his younger brother Gigio's tutor, Roberta. However, Lebanese begins to consider Ice's romance a weakness, a point reinforced when Ice asks to be dismissed from the gang. In response, Lebanese casts up the car theft from their childhood, where his leg was permanently damaged by the pursuing police. Ice and Roberta begin to learn English with the idea that they will elope there. Then Ice receives a phone call informing him that Lebanese is dead, stabbed by Gemito after a bitter game of poker.
Then begins Ice's quest for vengeance, aided by Dandi.
Yet Scialoja is on their trail and succeeds in capturing Ice, then the other members of the gang except Dandi.