An Italian couple nicknamed “Romeo and Juliet” who fell in love from their balconies during the coronavirus lockdown is engaged.
In March, neighbors Michele D’Alpaos and Paola Agnelli, created social media buzz for crushing on each other during lockdown from their respective balconies in Verona, Italy — the setting of the 1597 William Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet — while the pandemic raged throughout their country.
Then, Italy had more than 53,000 COVID-19 infections and the highest death toll in the world.
During Italy’s eight-week lockdown, which began on March 9, locals utilized their balconies for fresh air, social interactions and nightly serenades with clapping, singing and musical instruments to honor health care workers. It was when Agnelli’s sister Lisa, a professional violinist, put on a 6:00 p.m. performance that the couple locked eyes.
“I was immediately struck by the beauty of this girl, by her smile,” D’Alpaos, who lives on the seventh floor of his apartment building, told the Washington Post. “I had to know her.”
D’Alpaos found his future bride on Instagram (thanks to his sister, who knew her name) but he didn’t have an account. So he created one to message Agnelli. “When he contacted me, I was happy, but I didn’t want to deceive myself,” she told the Washington Post.
Agnelli lives with her sister and mother in a sixth-floor apartment with a balcony that faces D’Alpaos’ apartment. He lives on the seventh floor with his parents, according to the Washington Post.
Over the next two months, the pair flirted over the phone and from each other’s balconies, even requesting that Lisa play songs for the other, Agnelli told the BBC in April. And D’Alpaos made grand gestures like sending Agnelli flowers and hanging a bedsheet from his apartment that read “Paola.”
“I could write a book: Love in the Time of Coronavirus,” D’Alpaos joked to the BBC.
In May, when lockdown conditions eased, they met at the park and shared their first kiss. “We were both nervous but it went really well — he was just like I imagined he would be,” she told The Times.
“He’s the love of my life,” Agnelli tells Yahoo Life, adding that the couple is getting to know each other better and plans to wed in about two years.
The pair, who still reside in their separate units, plan to move into a Verona apartment owned by D’Alpaos. The big day might also be close to home, says D’Alpaos. “it would be a dream to be able to do the wedding ceremony on the terrace of my building.”
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