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Paola Agnelli and Michele D’Alpaos experienced love at first sight from their balconies during the coronavirus lockdown–now, they are together.

Everyone knows the tragic story of a couple who met centuries ago in fair Verona–the infamous Shakespearian play, Romeo and Juliet. Well, recently, a real-life variation of the story took place in the same city.

But this time, they got a happy ending despite the tragic times Italy went through amidst the coronavirus crisis.

Like Juliet, she was on her balcony

Italy saw terrifying numbers of cases and deaths due to the coronavirus so it had enforced a strict lockdown. The whole world had witnessed the plight of the Italian people but also the heartwarming ways in which they came together to get through it–notably through singing together from their balconies.

Paola Agnelli first caught sight of Michele D’Alpaos during the lockdown in Verona, Italy. They had both stepped out onto their balconies for a community concert. As Paola’s sister, who is a violinist, performed Queen’s We Are The Champions, their fateful encounter happened–from a distance.

Lisa Agnelli told BBC Radio Four: “Every day I play the violin on the balcony and on that day, March 17, my sister was helping me with the audio.”

Paola caught Michele’s attention from across the street as their eyes met. “I went out onto the balcony to see Lisa playing her violin and I saw him standing on the opposite balcony I realized he was my friend Sylvia’s brother and I said: ‘What a handsome man,'” Paola said.

For her, it was love at first sight, as she told The Daily Mail.

The first time I saw Michele it was love first sight and for him as well – our eyes just met each other. The atmosphere was so romantic.

Paola Agnelli

They had lived across each other for years

When Michele saw Paola, he was struck very much the same way. Fortunately, his sister Silvia knew her from the gym and he was able to add her on Instagram. The two started messaging until 3am. Michele describes being like ‘teenagers in love’. 

That night we wrote to each other until the early hours.

Paola Agnelli to Daily Mail

While love at first sight can have many skeptics raising their brows, Paola and Michele prove that sometimes, these connections are more profound than they may appear. In fact, they found that they had a lot in common.

We realized we shared the same values and that those would be a solid base for a relationship – we are both determined people but also kind and sensitive.

Paola Agnelli

And to show his love to the world, Michele even put up a banner with Paola’s name written on it for the whole neighborhood to see.

He organized a big surprise for me by writing my name on a bedsheet and hanging it out on the balcony – I was very moved by it.

Paola Agnelli

What’s even more incredible, is that the two have lived across each other for most of their lives but never really got a proper chance to meet. The lockdown brought them together but also kept them apart.

As Michele works at a bank, he was always in contact with people. So the two vowed not to break the rules of the lockdown.

As Italy recovered, they finally met in person

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Of course, the two couldn’t meet in person until Italy’s lockdown restrictions were lifted this week, allowing those with a “stable bond of affection” to meet beginning Monday.

“We discussed it because we didn’t want to end up being punished, rather like Shakespeare’s characters,” Paola to The Times.

For their first date, the couple met park bench and spent some time together, which was in line with the current phase of social distancing rules in Italy.

“I’m very happy as now I can see him, hold him, kiss him, and I’m very happy as he’s very near me, and I can see him in every spare moment,” Paola said in a video interview with This Morning.

The two plan to move in together, once things get more stable.

Human connections will always surprise you

Paola and Michele’s incredible love story reminds us that even when conditions are dire, the potential to make life-changing connections is always there.

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