Two lovers dubbed the Romeo and Juliet of lockdown after they spotted each other from the balconies of their homes in Verona have announced that they are getting married. Michele D’Alpaos, a 38-year-old IT worker, and Paola Agnelli, 40, a lawyer, fell in love in March during Italy’s strict ten-week lockdown but were unable to leave their neighboring apartments to meet.

Their long-distance affair, fueled by phone calls and wistful gazes, drew comparisons to the lovers in Shakespeare’s tragedy, which is set in Verona. However, the couple, who finally embraced in a local park in May, are promising a happy ending. “We are absolutely getting married and all we have to do is set the date,” Mr D’Alpaos said. “We are considering a ceremony on the large roof terrace of my building, which would make sense since we met on our balconies.” Ms Agnelli said: “This relationship is real and something to protect — meeting like that was our destiny and it is wonderful that we could fall in love in the midst of such a tragic event.”

Their long-distance affair, fueled by phone calls and wistful gazes, drew comparisons to the lovers in Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Ms Agnelli was standing on the balcony of her sixth-floor apartment when she first set eyes on Mr D’Alpaos, who was on the balcony of his seventh-floor flat. Both had emerged to listen to music played at 6pm every day by neighbors to lift people’s spirits. After exchanging phone numbers the two struck up a relationship and Mr D’Alpaos erected a large banner on the roof of his building with “Paola” written on it, drawing the attention of local newspapers.

Following the meeting in the park, the next stage of the romance lived up to expectations, despite a slow start. “It was difficult at first as Paola wanted to take a pause for a month because she had law exams and was uncomfortable with the media pressure as our story became known,” Mr D’Alpaos said. By the end of July the couple were spending time at the beach with Mr D’Alpaos’ parents and in the Alps with Ms Agnelli’s mother.

Mr D’Alpaos still lives in the flat he shares with his parents, while Ms Agnelli shares her flat with her mother and sister, but the couple have been spending weekends at another flat in the city that Mr D’Alpaos owns, and where they may move when married. “Michele has the same character and name as my grandfather Michele, who had a good heart and values,” Ms Agnelli said. “It’s almost as if he was sent to me. Lockdown has ended but he makes me laugh by still flashing a torch from his apartment at night to say hello, and we still phone each other from our balconies when saying goodnight.”