COVID’s real-life ‘Romeo and Juliet’ get engaged after falling in love from their balconies

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.”

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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.”

12 PHOTOSCities to hit in ItalySee GalleryCities to hit in Italy

ROME 

It’s hard to talk about visiting Italy without starting at this classical city where contemporary culture stands shoulder to should with ancient architecture. Landmarks of the “Eternal City” include the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona, and you can even travel to another country by crossing into Vatican City to see the Sistine Chapel. Don’t miss strolling with a gelato in hand to the Spanish Steps on your way to the flowering gardens of the Villa Borghese. Leave time to explore the smaller neighborhoods, eat Rome’s famed pizza, and people watch in the piazzas with a glass of wine. Rome is also one of our favorite destinations for breathtaking views on a Mediterranean Cruise.

FLORENCE

For art and culture lovers, Florence is a must visit. Start at the Galleria Accademia to gaze at the impressive 17 foot high Michelangelo masterwork, David, whose detailed sculpture makes all others pale by comparison. Then move on to the Uffizi Gallery for rooms full of priceless Renaissance masterpieces, including works by Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio. Then stroll across the Ponte Vecchio bridge for panoramic views of the Arno River. Surrounded by 22 acres of gardens, olive and lemon groves, Villa La Massa, is located just outside of Florence but feels worlds away. Built in the 16th century for a member of the Medici family, it features authentic Florentine decor and serene Arno River views. Get ready to mangia, eat up, in Florence, which is one of the best cities for foodies in the world.

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VENICE

A safe, car-free, walker’s paradise of canals and waterways, this Italian city is perfect for exploring, and wandering, on your own—half the adventure here is simply getting lost on your own along the winding alleyways and discovering tucked-away neighborhoods. (Of course, you’ll want to also leave time to see Piazza San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and a few of the world-class museums). In the evening, join the convivial crowds along the Rialto for Apertivo hour, when locals sip goblets of “spritz” (Aperol and prosecco) or regional wines accompanied by small bites or “cicchetti” at a small bar (bàcari)—a perfect time for solo travelers to find a dining companion if they want. At night, retire across the canal to the small island of Giudecca where the Belmond Hotel Cipriani which boasts a saltwater pool and rose gardens feels like a resort, but with views of San Marco. Even if you’re not staying here, stop by the sun-kissed cocktail lounge for their signature Bellini, a mix of white peach puree and local prosecco.

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MILAN

There’s a vibrant energy to this buzzing business center known for its high-end shopping and fashion-forward designers. However, it’s not all commerce in this northern Italian destination. Head to the roof of the magnificent Milan Cathedral, the third largest in Europe, for gorgeous views of La Scala theater and over the downtown. Book tickets in advance to see “The Last Supper;” Leonardo’s Da Vinci’s masterwork graces a wall of the unassuming Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie; although you can only spend 15 minutes with the massive mural, the experience will likely stay with you for a lifetime. Check into the Baglioni Hotel Carlton for a chic stay right in the heart of the city’s vibrant shopping and dining heart.

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LAKE COMO

Located in northern Italy, right below Milan, this azure glacial lake may be the deepest in Europe, but it’s much better known as the vacation destination of choice for style setting globetrotters, including George and Amal Clooney, who have a home here. Enjoy the stunning lake and mountain scenery here from Villa d’Este, the world-famous resort hotel overlooking the gorgeous lake is set amid 25 acres of luxuriously landscaped park with a legendary floating swimming pool that sits directly on the lake. Known as “Hollywood on the Lake” everyone from Greta Garbo and Elizabeth Taylor to George Clooney has stayed here, and it was the site of Emily Blunt and John Krasinski’s destination wedding. For even more romance, don’t miss these gorgeous European destinations.

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AMALFI COAST

If Italy had a “Hamptons,” it would undoubtedly be the Amalfi coast, a rugged stretch of coastline where breathtakingly beautiful hotels sit practically atop one another and overlook the crystal-clear blue waters of the Mediterranean. The result? Some of the most unique and exquisite beach towns you’ll ever see. While the Amalfi Coast is home to several small Italian villages, one of the most romantic is without question Positano, where you’ll find Sireneuse Hotel, which boasts beautiful views of the sunset and is home to Michelin-starred restaurant, La Sponda.

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TUSCANY

Wine anyone? In Tuscany, it’s hard to drive even a few minutes without encountering picturesque vineyard tucked between hillsides overflowing not with grape vines and olive trees. Stands of manicured Cypress Trees lead the way to quaint farmhouses and ancient walled towns, like Siena, whose golden-hued pedestrian city center is perfect for strolling and exploring. Spend a day tasting the local vino, then spend the night sampling pasta delicacies at one of the many family-owned eateries that dot the surrounding countryside. These gorgeous wineries around the world are definitely worth a visit.

POMPEII

In A.D. 79, Pompeii was a thriving city filled with citizens of the Roman Empire working, playing, and going about their everyday lives. Then Mt. Vesuvius erupted, completely burying the city in lava, ash, and rubble, completely catching its residents off guard. After the eruption, the entire community lay hidden, and perfectly preserved, under tons of volcanic residue for almost 1,700 years before being discovered in the mid-18th century. Today, a visit to Pompeii gives you a glimpse of what life was like centuries ago as you walk amid the perfectly preserved remains of daily life.

MATERA

“Matera, in the southern Italian region of Basilicata, is now firmly placed on the map for cultivated travelers after being awarded the accolade of 2019 European Capital of Culture, ” enthuses Roberta Possenti, Managing Director for Southern Europe of Preferred Hotels. Matera, which is near Bari, at the top of Italy’s “heel,” is an ancient city steeped in history with highlights that include the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sassi, cave dwellings and rock churches that are more than 7,000 years old. Having remained relatively unknown for many years, the city makes visitors feel as though they are the first to discover this magical town, adds Possenti. The newly opened Kalidria Hotel & Thalasso Spa, located near the coast just a 45-minute drive from Matera, is a tranquil base from which to explore the area.

CAPRI 

Few destinations in Italy, and perhaps the world, conjure myths of romance the way this beautiful island does. A 45-minute boat ride brings visitors from Naples to Marina Grande; from here take the funicular to Capri Town and scenic Piazzetta Square, always bustling with visitors. Continue across the island to the southern shore and Marina Piccola for the island’s largest beach. It’s also a short hop from Marina Grande to visit the museum at lovely Villa San Michele. And don’t miss the legendary Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra); motorboats can take you right from the marina to visit the luminescent cave where you’ll transfer to a rowboat for a visit to the sunken cave.

NAPLES

It’s said you “See Naples and Die,” since its beauty is so overwhelming, and although we don’t take it quite so literally, it’s setting stretching along the Tyrrhenian Sea with views of Mt. Vesuvius towering the east, the sparkling Bay of Naples spread out in front, and the glittering isle of Capri in the foreground, is definitely impressive. The city is home to four elaborate castles plus a palace in addition to myriad churches and cathedrals, and several impressive museums, adding substance to its impressive looks.

SICILY

The largest island in the Mediterranean has been a cultural crossroads for 3,000 years. Highlights of this Italian island include the capital city of Palermo and its 12th-century duomo dating back to 1174; the gorgeous, ancient seaside town of Siracusa. History buffs will marvel at the Classics such as Valle Dei Templi, one of the richest archaeological sites in the region; the Greek temples in Segesta; and, the breathtaking mosaics of the Roman Villa del Casale. Travelers’ palettes will be indulged with tastings in Marsala wine country; sampling typical Sicilian pastries baked by a silent order of nuns at the Abbey di Santo Spirito. Of course, no visit to Sicily would be complete without taking in Mt. Etna, along with the vineyards and pistachio groves planted in the lush soil that surrounds the volcano. Read on for the 15 best places to visit in 2019 according to travel experts.

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