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Rome Reports

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Llamas and their owners meet Pope Francis at the Vatican


The llama is not only an animal from Peru in South America, but also can be found in the Italian Alps in the north of Italy. 

It was 22 years ago when Walter decided to make a living raising llamas and it seems it is not going so well. So he decided with his two friends, both named Thomas, to carry out something particular: to travel the 1,000 kilometers that separate their home in Bolzano from the Vatican.

They crossed over half the country in six weeks, accompanied by three of their best accessories: Bufón, Luigi and Tiento. Their presence in the Eternal City did not go unnoticed.

THOMAS BURGER
“We've had this idea for years and now, after taking a gap year I've finally been able to carry it out.”

THOMAS MOHR
“We had a tent with us, but when it got dark it was -12 degrees, so we could not sleep outside. and then there was endless rain. The llamas also spit and this is a question that is always asked. No, they do not spit on people but if they fight between themselves they spit too. They bite and spit.”

At the Vatican, they were able to experience this unique moment of greeting the pope. They went to the center and everyone was staring at them. 

THOMAS BURGER
“He got out of the popemobile and we shook his hand... it was an incredible experience.”

WALTER MAIR
“It was an emotional meeting, I mean... to shake the pope's hand. After, we gave him our gifts: a skullcap and socks made with llama wool. Then he told us, pray for me. It was so emotional.”

In addition the road they traveled on foot along with the llamas is particular: it is Via Romea, which was used by pilgrims coming from Central Europe.

The three pilgrims now return home after a particularly uncommon experience in coming to the Vatican. They say they may not travel the 1,000 kilometers on foot again, but if they come back to Rome, they will probably do it in another way.