“I'm still here, but I never graduate” 

We met Angelo Corbetta, the man in the bow tie who has seen the passage of generations of students from behind the bar at the historic HARP PUB

From our MAP 2 archive: read the full article

Corbetta raises his head to look up at his father who watches over him, in the framed photo on the wall of the Harp Pub, at number 20 Piazza Leonardo da Vinci. The pub opened in 1976 and the atmosphere inside has remained the same. 

“The customers here are always of the same age,” says Angelo, “ranging from eighteen year-old freshmen to twenty-five year-old graduates. One cycle ends and another begins.” There is an imaginary boundary between the tables and the bar. At the tables, there are students, the bar is the territory of the sixty year-olds: former students, professors. 

Luigi Dadda - an engineer to whom we owe the arrival of information technology in Italy - was best man at Corbetta and Pina’s wedding. And the names and memories of those who frequented this place overlap: luminaries with their heads in the clouds who, after eating their sandwich, would ask: “Have I already eaten my sandwich?”, or the guy with the most beautiful eyes in Città Studi, according to his wife Pina.  

“Once, there was a curtain dividing the space between the pub and the room below,” says Corbetta. “One day, I saw some students who tiptoed past and slipped behind the curtain. Then I discovered that Professor Vittoriano Viganò had assigned them the task of renovating the pub.”  

The project awards were naturally organized at the pub; some of the students had thought of transforming it into a large steel block divided over two floors. But instead, since then, nothing has changed.  

“And nothing must change,” explains Corbetta who adds, “Every now and then someone comes in, looks around and says: 'It’s exactly the same.’ Yesterday, for example, a former student stopped by; he hadn't been back here for forty years. I recognized him, he was moved and called his wife to tell her: 'They recognized me in the pub!'  

Someone else comes in and, like in a Back to the Future, orders sandwiches that have been off the menu for twenty years: the Cosscco, Vecchia Vienna, which had the secret ingredient of a slice of orange, the Gourmandise, which disappeared when this French cheese became unobtainable. Today, it’s Corbetta's two sons, Riccardo and Francesco, who make sandwiches in the kitchen and stand behind the bar to pour beer and mix cocktails. Corbetta, instead, sits by the cash register, in shirt and bow tie, eyeglasses resting on his white hair, and says: “I am still here. But I never graduate.” 

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