On Friday (9 July), Pernice and Higgins confirmed their relationship by sharing separate photos kissing to their respective Instagrams.
Both posts were captioned: “I’m yours.”
Love Island and Strictly viewers expressed their surprise at the relationship, wishing the new couple well while admitting that they hadn’t seen the romance coming.
“Well this came out of nowhere!” one commenter wrote, while another fan joked: “I missed a chapter.”
“What the actual wasn’t expecting [this] at all,” one Instagram user commented on Pernice’s post.
On Higgins’s post, an incredulous follower wrote: “Since when???”
“But what the f*** is going on,” another commented.
The reaction on Twitter was one of equal shock, with one tweet reading: “Giovanni and Maura wtf i was NOT expecting that.”
“Finding out Maura Higgins is with Giovanni off Strictly is NOT how I expected my morning to go but here we are,” another wrote.
One commenter tweeted: “Sorry Maura Higgins and Giovanni from Strictly are together?????? Did not see that coming bloody hell.”
“GIOVANNI AND MAURA ARE DATING? OMG I LOVE THAT,” another fan wrote.
Italian dancer Pernice, who joined the BBC competition series in 2015, has previously been in a relationship with his first Strictly partner Georgia May Foote, later dating another contestant, Ashley Roberts, in 2019.
Higgins also has a connection to Strictly, having dated ballroom dancer Curtis Pritchard (whose brother AJ used to compete on the show) after the pair met on Love Island in 2019.