December 2, 2011. (Romereports.com)
Antonio Dudi arrived at the Vatican at six AM on Thursday after driving
from the Zakarpatia region in Ukraine. He was in charge of transporting
the tree that will adorn St. Peter's Square this Christmas.
After four days of travel he has passed through Ukraine, Hungary, Austria and Italy with 98 foot tall tree that weighs 4.9 tons.Antonio Dudi
Truck Driver “The whole trip was very nice because we were well looked after since leaving Ukraine, which is the country that has prepared everything. The second was Hungary, which also offered their help for this trip.”
Antonio had returned to Italy from Ukraine on November 12 only to be told to return and pick up the Christmas tree. But he had no problem accepting the job to retrace the 900 some miles between Italy and the Eastern European country.
He says he knew he had been given an important mission, but what he didn't know was the amount of emotion that Ukrainians felt in giving this gift to the pope.
Truck Driver“There was a sea of people and children who were singing, dancing, and playing. They were celebrating and afterward they blessed the tree while loading it on the truck. It was a moment in which the children were dancing for the fact the tree came from there and it was a reason for them to celebrate.”
Despite the threat of snow, Antonio says the trip was mostly uneventful, with the exception of the fog that he found in Austria.
Truck Driver“Upon leaving, we ran into a big problem. It was the fog. We didn't expect any fog, and I thought I could make it through to Bologna, but instead the fog forced me to stop. The next day we set off again and on the 29th we realized we were in Rome, when we were hoping to arrive on the night of 30th.”
After reaching the Vatican, the tree will have to wait until Monday morning when a crane is scheduled to lift it where it will remain through Christmas.