The comic reinterpretation of the splendours and excesses of Ancient Rome certainly isn’t a new idea. And Nero, the out-of-control emperor par excellence, had already been brought to the screen on numerous other occasions: Alessandro Blasetti and Ettore Petrolini’s Nerone; Mario Soldati’s O.K. Nerone; Steno’s Mio figlio Nerone… Per amore di Poppea adds its own entry to this tradition, bringing with it all the charms and vices of the Italian sex comedy genre, with an abundance of coarse humour and a bounty of female beauties. The Poppea of the title is played by María Baxa, a Serbian-born naturalised Italian actress who also regularly featured in the pages of Italian centrefold magazine Playmen. Around her, swarm two peasants disguised as women (Gianfranco D’Angelo and Alvaro Vitali), who end up burning down the city, and an emperor (Oreste Lionello) who dedicates himself more to the arts than good governance. There is also no shortage of jokes at the expense of contemporary Italian politics: “If the democratic-Christians take power, you’ll never get rid of them.”
Tizio and Caio, two peasants from the Ciociaria region, disguise themselves as women to avoid being recruited into the Roman Praetorian Guard. However, they fall into the clutches of a slave trader and are sold to Poppea. In the court of Nero, they get mixed up in plots, love affairs, fires and bloody games in the arena.