|Notes ||The story begins in a hospital in Rome, Italy, where an elderly lady, originally an immigrant from Russia, is on her deathbed. With her last breath, she tells her granddaughter, Olga, that despite being of seemingly poor origin, she actually belongs to a rich aristocratic bloodline. Whilst fleeing the Red Terror, a series of repressions targeting aristocracy (victims are historically referred to as former people), she was forced to leave her family's treasures, a total of 9 billion Italian lire, in Russia, Leningrad (at the time called Petrograd, today referred to as Saint Petersberg), "underneath a lion". The revelation is overheard by a doctor, two male nurses Antonio and Giuseppe, an Italian mafioso Rosario, and a patient with a leg injury. The six characters each decide to go to Russia, and everyone except the doctor is able to start their search for the treasure. The mafioso steals the doctor's passport, and so the doctor is forced to make round trips from Russia to Italy because neither country will let him in without identification. The treasure hunters are soon joined by Andrei (portrayed by Andrei Mironov), an undercover police captain posing as a "guide for a millionth Italian visitor", who happens to be Antonio, one of the male nurses. |
The hunt soon turns into a game of elimination, though the characters' rivalry grows into a form of friendship. Olga and Andrei develop feelings for each other, going as far as Andrei claiming he would marry Olga soon after the two first meet. The characters dig up lion statues throughout Leningrad, which is a city that is notorious for having an overwhelming amount of lion statues. They eventually find the treasure, which had been hidden not under a statue of a lion, but underneath a lion cage at a zoo. The lion chases them throughout the city after they find the treasure. After they escape the lion, the treasure hunters are confronted by the police. The police confiscate the findings, because treasure belongs to the state under Soviet law. Luckily for the hunters, they receive 25% of the treasure by law as a reward for finding it.
Their quest being complete, the adventurers part their ways, each now being impressively wealthy. Olga decides to stay in Russia with Andrei (revealed to be promoted to the rank of major within the police), as the two have fallen in love during the journey.