Like several other Doctor Who stories, it was set in World War II. Unusually, however, it took place late in the war, about a month after the Battle of Monte Cassino, in a northern Italian village whose inhabitants were partisans. Of the many glimpses of World War II provided by Doctor Who, Treasure Trail may be the only one set amongst the Italian resistance. It is almost certainly the only Doctor Who story in any medium to depict the Nazi plunder of European art.
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The Time Lords send the Fourth Doctor and Sarah-Jane on another mission without clear instructions. They find themselves under Nazi aircraft fire almost immediately upon disembarking the TARDIS. The Doctor's people have dumped them near the northern Italian town of Borosini in 1944.
Suspected by the local villagers of being Nazi spies, they are brought before the town's priest, Father Antonio. The Doctor convinces the priest they are English, using the writing on the TARDIS' police box exterior as proof. Any doubt about the pair's identity, however, is far less significant than that Goering's Nazis are entering the village. It seems they are after whatever artistic treasures they can find.
They storm into the church, and Antonio shows them the Raphael hanging in the knave. Impressed, Lieutenant Schuler spreads word of the painting up the Nazi chain of command. Meanwhile, the villagers fear that the Nazis will just steal their art as they've already done elsewhere in Europe.
Giovanni, a local partisan who has given the Doctor and Sarah a hard time, confirms that there's a massive shipment of stolen art soon to pass through by rail. The Doctor proposes to blow the line. They do this, retrieve all the stolen art via a mule trail, and bring it all back to the TARDIS. The Time Lords send the TARDIS to 1948, where the Doctor offloads the art. To the Italian press, it seems as though the art has magically reappeared. One priest in Borosini knows it's not magic, but it's a secret he vows to take to his grave.
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- This story makes no significant references to other DWU fiction.
- The Eleventh Doctor again used the writing on the TARDIS' police box exterior to prove that he was from London when he met Adolf Hitler in Berlin in 1938. (TV: Let's Kill Killer)