Luigi Pedutto and Mokryna Yurzhuk met during the Second World War in 1943 in an Austrian camp for prisoners-of-war. He was a soldier, and she was a forced labourer. For two years they were together, but when the war ended, the Soviet authorities did not allow Mokryna to travel to Italy with her beloved Luigi. And so, the lovers were separated for 60 long years.
The amazing story of their love became known thanks to the popular TV show “Wait for me” (Чекай на мене). In 2004, Luigi found Mokryna thanks to that program… and they started meeting every year – Mokryna visited Luigi in Italy, and he came to see her in Ukraine.
Decades passed. Luigi worked as a financier in Italy and Mokryna as a collective farmer in Ukraine. Both married and had children, but never forgot their wartime love. During the 60 years of separation, Luigi kept a strand of Mokryna’s hair and her shirt. After meeting in Ukraine, Luigi asked her to marry him; he was even ready to buy a house near her home. Mokryna refused, saying it was too late – they were both over 90 years old.
For millions of people, the story of the Ukrainian women and her Italian lover has become an example of true love that can overcome any obstacle – war, time, separation and distance. The TV team was so thrilled with the history of this eternal love that it decided to immortalize it. Thanks to Ukrainian sculptors Oleksandr Morhatsky and Hryhoriy Kostiukov, a memorial statue was erected to the lovers in Mariyinsky Park near the Bridge of Lovers in Kyiv.
Luigi Pedutto attended the unveiling of the statue in Kyiv, but did not live to see their love immortalized in his homeland, Italy. He passed away in 2013. Mokryna was too weak to travel to Kyiv for the ceremony, but her relatives at the event said she was happy that her love would become a symbol for other couples. She died two years later, in 2015.
An exact copy of the sculpture was inaugurated in Luigi Pedutto’s native town, Castel San Lorenzo. On April 30, 2017, on the day the statue was unveiled in Luigi’s hometown, almost half of the town – more than a thousand people – attended the ceremony on the main square of Castel San Lorenzo.