Nimble and Agile – buzz words for this winemaker from Tonello Winery

In the male dominated world of wine, Diletta Tonnello is a breath of fresh air. Freshly graduated from the University of Padua in 2013, a few years of experience, she’s ready to go and put all her passion and skills into the family winery. Located in Montorso Vicentino directly east of Lake Garda and Verona, she has 12 hectares of volcanic, alluvial deposit, rich in pebbles to cultivate. She’s in her element and with her indulging father Antonio, she has free rein to experiment.

Diletta Tonello in her comfort zone

My eyes pop open when I put my nose into a glass of Lessini Durello. Made in the Champagne method, it takes 36 months mellowing on the yeast to soften the high acidity of the Durello grapes. Disgorged in February 2017, it is showing pretty well in February 2018 but can only get better with time. It’s creamy with lots of brioche and almonds and leaves that lingering waxy feel in the mouth which you get in Champagne.

Gosh, I remember the student days when I used to swig at bottles of cheap Soave that clung to your cheeks with its wrenching acidity. Garganego, the grape, is from a different planet in the hands of Diletta. Elegant notes of pear with enough acidity turns this varietal into wine of class for easy drinking.

The reds are a triumph. Tonello’s Merlot has been vinified in cement tanks and shows the fruit so well without any interference of wood or too much handling. Eucalyptus and mint come through and dreams of lamb as a food pairing, surface. The Cabernet Sauvignon too has only seen the inside of a cement tank and has a classic cigar box nose with a hint of something green, not the best way of describing reds but it works in this superb wine. Only 2015, with such great potential. The flagship Incognito is slightly older at 2010 and has been in French oak. It’s a combination of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and the flavours you got from tasting these individually, are brought together seamlessly.

Diletta – boldly making her mark

Diletta is young and stunning and has a bright future ahead of her. She can only get better, just like her wines.


Helsinki reaches out to millions of Chinese travellers with new Helsinki mini program

China is the largest outbound tourism market in the world. The cooperation between Helsinki and Tencent gives the Finnish capital a groundbreaking channel straight into the mobile devices of WeChat users. Helsinki has set itself the goal of being the most digitalised city in the world, and the cooperation with Tencent ensures that the city is already now a globally remarkable innovator in digital tourism services.

In September 2017 the City of Helsinki and Tencent signed a cooperation agreement, according to which Helsinki will serve as an intelligent tourism model for Chinese outbound tourism. The two cooperation partners have since codeveloped a destination mini program that offers Helsinki travel information to almost one billion WeChat users.

On Thursday 15 February the Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori and General Manager Zhan Shu from Tencent Governmental Affairs and Tourism Center launched the new WeChat Helsinki mini program as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Helsinki.

Helsinki uses its open data resources to take digital tourism to the next level

The initial version of the WeChat Helsinki mini program allows users to access content about Helsinki’s sights, services, events and transportation. Panoramic Helsinki 360-photos, a translation service and emergency help are also included.

As a pioneer in utilising open data, Helsinki will continue to work closely with Tencent to further develop the application. Helsinki’s open data resources include databases for places, events and services. The aim is to build an application that provides users with comprehensive, professional and real-time information and services.

Helsinki’s strategic aim is to be the forerunner city of digitalisation in the near future. For  travellers we want to be the safest, most functional and happiest place to visit. The Helsinki mini program makes it possible to share what’s best about Helsinki with millions of Chinese people in a way that creates a sharable, local experience,” says Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki.

“This is Tencent’s first overseas pilot cooperation project in the field of smart city tourism. The project provides comprehensive and practical information about overseas destinations for Chinese tourists and a more convenient platform for overseas destinations to showcase their urban charm. Helsinki wants to build a more tailored travel experience for Chinese visitors, and forming a partnership with Tencent is the right way to do that,” states Zhan Shu, General Manager of the Tencent Governmental Affairs and Tourism Center.

In the near future the WeChat Helsinki mini program will also include an interactive map and a public transportation journey planner. The aim is also to include the possibility to buy mobile tickets for public transport and test the WeChat Pay integration for some of the services.

Helsinki is the fastest transit city from China to Europe

The Finnish airline Finnair offers nearly 40 direct flights a week from seven major Chinese cities to Helsinki. Helsinki’s excellent accessibility has given the Finnish capital a head start in the Chinese tourism market, and now the same step has been taken also digitally.

Helsinki has become increasingly popular among Chinese tourists in recent years. The number of registered overnight stays by Chinese travellers in Helsinki has more than doubled in the past five years. In 2017 the number of overnight stays by Chinese visitors increased by 29,3 percent over the previous year to 135 000.

Helsinki joined the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) in 2014. The valuable membership has enabled new business contacts and opened significant opportunities for cooperation in China. The WTCF has selected Helsinki to be the host city of its 2019 summit meeting. Beijing and Helsinki have been sister cities since 2006.

More info:

Laura Aalto
CEO, Helsinki Marketing
Mobile: +358 40 507 9660

Kaari Artemjeff
Marketing Manager (China, Russia), Helsinki Marketing
Mobile: +358 50 307 0835

Hao Wang
Manager, Tencent Governmental Affairs and Tourism Center
Mobile: +86 1860 1110 375

Three Exhibitions, a Host of Artists and a Raft

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

There and Back Again

9 February – 24 March 2019

Twenty-six artists from the eastern Baltic Sea Region – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Russia, explore the physical and metaphysical journeys of their lives. Many of them have lived through occupation and experienced liberation which has had an impact on their identities, feelings of belonging and of course their memories.

A raft of Estonian beer cans

Estonian Karel Koplimets’ construction of a raft of beer cans filled with polyurethane that actually floats and took the artist on an eight hours trip from Porkkala, Finland to Tallinn, Estonia. Booze cruise takes on a whole different meaning considering the jolly day-trippers from Finland that go to Estonia to buy cheap alcohol while the Estonians sail to Finland for job and better pay.

Skydiving Star

Kris Lemsalu’s Star takes on the shape of a life-size skydiver wearing a Bowie-type Ziggy Stardust suit with two canines on the ground. It’s almost as if the diver is afraid of putting his feet down in case of an attack. But then the dogs look as if they’re bowing towards him/her. The installation is humorous and touching at the same time.

Follow Me

Daria Melnikova is a Latvian artist whose Follow Me shrine of lights, an altar, communion bread and music surrounding the icon of a natural, beautiful woman, is an ironic metaphor for the values of the new generation. Social media is represented in the title where everyone wants more follows and likes while the bread is homemade and gluten-free.

Nationalism is on the rise in Poland and Maria Tobola’s Amber Kebab is a take on popular Middle Eastern cuisine made out of Baltic ‘gold’.
Jenni Yppärila from Finland makes cardboard cutouts of buildings that have stories to tell.

Maija Luutonen

9 February – 29 July 2018

The first in the series called Kiasma Commission by Kordelin has been launched to promote Finnish contemporary artists. Her works are large pieces of cloth stretched across walls and frames together with objects, finely painted sheets of paper and draperies, all of which suggest transience and movement. “Things are never completed. Everything is in motion.”

Maija Luutonen’s stretched fabric

Russian Stardust

9 February – 29 July 2018

Gorbachev with feminine touches leading the Soviet Union away from machoism to a creative administration.

“For some people art is art; for me, it’s my personal life.” Russian artist Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe drowned on Bali in 2013 at the age of 43. His short life was filled with jumping in and out of famous characters, dressing up, performing and being the first drag artist in the Soviet Union. He parodies Brigitte Bardot in a video of this animal lover and conservationist, becomes Mikhael Gorbachev portraying the reforms brought on by Perestroika. His transformations are iconic and can be seen in photographs and videos.

Ski Chamonix – with all its inconveniences

When you mention that you’re going skiing in Chamonix, your listener goes green with envy. Excitement mounts and you really start looking forward to this vacation in the French Alps.

Stunning scenery in the French Alps at Chamonix

Having skid many other countries including the USA, Austria, and Italy, France has somehow escaped my itinerary but it’s always been on the list. No problem getting there – Geneva Airport, ChamExpress from door to door. Lovely, large apartment at La Ginabelle with all the amenities including a pool and steam room at a reasonable rate. The town itself is as pretty as Alpine towns can be and has many top level restaurants. Highly recommend comes La Maison Carrier.

The pretty town of Chamonix

Now comes the crunch – the ski area is vast and you’re spoilt for choice as to where your next slope adventure is going to be. Getting there is another thing – buses run but you still need to carry your skis and even worse, walk in your ski boots to reach the bus stop after which you are either lucky enough to get a seat, or unlucky and have to jam yourself into an overloaded vehicle and stand all the way. That’s of course if you know which bus stop to go to. Information is scanty on the net and it usually takes a trip to the Tourist Info Centre to find out. Why reception at your apartment can’t always tell you what you need to know, is sort of incomprehensible.

Our happy band of skiers

You get to the mountain and you’re on your chosen chairlift. This is when you wonder when last they updated the infrastructure. Some of the button lifts are hazardous, most of the chairlifts have no covers and you sit in puddles of snow which are never wiped by the attendants. In an area like Les Houches which is geared for families and children, surely major investments should be made to keep it up to date? I was told it was because it’s too low and that climate change would soon take its toll. But in the meantime?

Compare this to Montafon or St. Anton in Austria. Heated chairs, wifi in gondolas, solar panels for energy, lockers at lift stations with heated bars for your ski boots, excellent restaurants on the mountain, expensive but not a rip off. When you pay €5.80 for a watery, crappy cappuccino at a restaurant at Grands Montets, it doesn’t encourage you to go back there for lunch.

Kitschin at the base of Bellevue, Les Houches

The delightful retro, diner-like Kitsch Inn at Les Houches Bellevue at the foot of the Telephérique cable car, however, is worth skiing down to the bottom for. The prices are fine and the quality is good. It has to be to get the skiers to move to the valley for lunch. The same at Le Tour Balme area where the cosiest of restaurants called Le Café Comptoir serving ‘real’ coffee is the first one you come across at the end of the long red, windy run down in Vallorcine. The food menu too doesn’t look shabby at all.

Chamonix has an international reputation for being one of the best resorts for your ski holiday but there are so many other options out there where you can slap on your skis and slide down to the lift, that this place just doesn’t qualify for a repeat visit.

Going Greek – street food in Kallio

“The only Greek thing about this place are the ingredients that we use,” says Tommi Ripatti, owner and chef of this small, atmospheric restaurant opposite the big ice rink called Brahen Kenttä.

Sink your teeth into the first bite and you know you’re dealing with a real gyro here, Greek chef or not! Pita straight from the mother country, mint, crunchy radish, tasty tomato and luscious lamb all brought together with harissa mayonnaise. There’s Retsina for those who like it and there’s also a nice little red which goes really nicely with that sandwich, served in enamel cups. Don’t take it too seriously, it’s not meant to be. If you’re carbo-phobic, you can have all that in a bowl – take your pick of lamb, pork, chicken or Portobello mushrooms.

Fun and friendly and no compromising on taste. Definitely a 5/5.

LUX Helsinki 2018

When the sun sets at 3.30 and rises at 9, and sometimes never, leaving us with dull, dreary days, LUX Helsinki is a welcome escape. Light installations flicker, shine and thrust through the city drawing in the crowds, brightening up our nights until 10 pm. Here are some visuals:

LUX Helsinki 2018 is held annually at the beginning of January. This year it’s from 6 – 10 January 2018.

See the link for a map and more details about events.

Dark Helsinki Days

When I first arrived here, my eternal optimism ruled my determinism to not allow the weather or seasons to affect my upbeat nature. That was a long time ago.

I kid you not – 9.30 am.

I have often wondered about Finns that leave their mother country behind for warmer climes during that time of year when not even Santa Claus can lure them back. Doesn’t one get used to the darkness and cold? Surely after spending most of one’s life in a place like this, one should have found coping mechanisms to alleviate the onset of gloom? Since snow seems to be more of a rarity than typical precipitation in Helsinki these days, the shadowy skies reveal dusk most of the day and night time shamelessly descends at around 3 pm. There is no light and whatever the Bible says about people loving darkness instead of light, taken out of context but anyway, it just ain’t true. We stumble along and try to find our way through these long, dark days and if we can afford it, we leave for Spain or Portugal where it’s all a lot jollier and friendlier and lighter and warmer than organised, well-run Finland can offer us. We live here because we work here and there’s no denying the fact that this angle of life is well taken care of in this egalitarian society. But it’s still ultimately the weather that has the upper hand and makes us dream of sunnier skies and smiles on the faces of the people walking by.

Still not kidding – 4 pm

No wonder the bars are full and no one’s laughing.

Violetta Teetor is a freelance journalist in Helsinki and President of the European Journalists Network, the Finnish section of the Association of European Journalists.

Fair and free democracy


Most of us will agree that democracy, in whatever broken shape or form, is preferable to other ideologies that have been promulgated over the past few hundred years. There is a point though, where the noble narrative of the empowerment of every eligible citizen can be taken a step too far. We’ve just seen a bawdy Christmas party spree called ‘pikkujoulu’ in the vernacular, in which it has once more been demonstrated that not all elected officials are worthy of the trust imbued in them. Take for example Teuvo Hakkarainen, the truest Finn of the Finn Party formerly the True Finn Party, who has once again demonstrated his complete lack of self control and good manners. The Parliament of Finland joins in on the jollifications of the festive season by throwing a party. What should he do but grab no less than former Taekwondo Olympic athlete and MP Veera Ruoho of the National Coalition Party to firmly plant a French kiss on her. Needless to say, alcohol was the driving force behind his passion. This incident was and probably will not be the only one that can be blamed on the odd tipple too much. Two weeks before this, his expensive Audi came to blows with the barricading pillars at the entrance of the parking hall to Parliament House. He claims they ‘suddenly rose up and lifted the front of the car’.

Seriously, who votes for people like this? And he’s not the only one. The buffoonery that is politics has become the laughing stock in more than one country. Surely some basic education should at least be a premise for adding your name to a ballot? Teuvo Hakkarainen was first elected in 2011 which means that he’s not been elected once, but twice!

International House Helsinki

Now there are no excuses! It’s easy, simple and quick. Everything you need to know for your new life in Finland.

Under one roof

The bureaucrats have come up with a brand new idea which is brilliant. If you’ve just moved to this country and you’re totally confused as to jobs, registering, taxes, pensions, whatever the case may be, just pop over to the Magistrate’s Office at Albertinkatu 25 where you’ll find International House Helsinki. All the services you need to make a smooth transition into society, are here, under one roof.

A friendly face to answer your immigration questions

No more stuffy government office

The staff are friendly and seem like polyglots with the number of languages they speak. The atmosphere is fun, colourful and so simply laid out that even a monkey can find its way around the procedure. Services that are covered include:

Multilingual information and counselling

Advisory and counselling for employers

Registration, personal identity code and change of address

Tax card/number and tax info

Social security and benefits

General info about TE (employment)

Registering as a job seeker

Pension insurance and A1 certificate from abroad

Employee rights advice

Where to learn Finnish

Step by step instructions to get you through the process


Use the app to make an appointment and find out what documents you will need to bring along. Go to App Store and look for Service Advisor App.

Moving at the best of times is a stressful operation and moving from one country to another can test your limits. With help like this, you are assured of the fact that everything is in order and that you’re doing the right thing. Relocating to Finland’s a breeze, if you can stand the weather.


International House Helsinki

California – the Exhibition

The shiny signs show the way to the various sections that this exhibition has been divided into at the Design Museum in Helsinki. Every part points to design in some form or another, not the type of design that one might imagine in the shape of a beautiful object, or a clever tool, but rather ideas and innovations that have influenced our lives in a way that sets us free, that makes our lives easier. While this utopian ideal is admirable, it did and does not always turn out the way the designer intended it to and can enslave as much as liberate the user. Whichever way you look at it, it arouses our curiosity and spurs us on to usage and experimentation.

Go Where You Want dominates the thinking of every over-50 year old male on the brink of fearful decline, with a high-barred Harley Davidson, the speedy, outdoor, La-Z-Boy object of potency. The chopper expresses so much more than a form of transport encompassing the freedom of the surfing culture, in spite of the difficulty of carrying a surfboard while driving one. Going where you want is about motorcycles, but it’s also about lying on the sofa and cruising the world with Google Maps, or finding roads with GPS systems leading you to hideaways to far-flung spots that would have remain hidden or at least, been hard to find in days gone by.

Captain America chopper – Easy Rider

See What You Want plunges us into a world of psychedelics and fantasy. Make-believe is the essence of some of the ordinary objects on display including LSD blotting paper, tiny tabs with decorative pictures, used to administer small quantities of potent trips to Strawberry Fields and other pop-song destinations. It transports you to alternative realities, California’s favourite place, and guides the brush strokes of Victor Moscoso and Rick Griffin in sweeps of colour that brighten up the brightest of days. Disney World and Hollywood had their origins in Los Angeles, sparking our imagination in movies as well as video games, the earliest forms of which can be seen and sniggered at compared with today’s sleeker versions, no doubt to be smirked at by later generations.

LSD blotting paper – designer unknown
Victor Moscoso’s psychedelic art

Say What You Want rebels against the hackneyed memes of the establishment that triggers thoughts, shocks a little and often amuses a lot. The poster of Boston & Boston: Equal Opportunity Designers has a black man dressed up in Ku Klux Klan garb defying the onlooker in a threatening stance. Free speech exceeds all boundaries in the work of Sheila de Bretteville’s centrefold in the feminist Everywoman newspaper with the single word ‘cunt’ spread across it. Wired magazine first published in 1993, stares you in the face with a cacophony of typefaces set on the background of wild, acid-trip-like scenes while giving us the opportunity to make sense of the crazy speed at which technology is overtaking our lives.

Archie Boston Graphic Design Studio, Los Angeles

Make What You Want brings to life the start-up culture of Silicon Valley where a DIY project, conceived in a garage, can whip through the globe and turn into a multi-billion dollar industry within a terrifyingly short period of time. Presenting the Apple 1 computer, a boxy, grey object with no aesthetic appeal. With a keyboard and a television set, we suddenly became masters of communication, writing and publishing, marketing gurus of our own personal brands, super-efficient robots accomplishing tasks that would have seemed impossible only a few years back.

The dumpy box-like early Mac
Wooden skateboards dating back to 1951 – designer unknown

Join Who You Want started with communes, a cess pools of sexual freedom and drug-taking, or so my mother used to think. Motorcycle gangs, the Gay-In held at Griffith Park in San Franciso, the Merry Pranksters spreading the gospel of LSD with author Ken Kesey and research pioneer Timothy Leary across America, offered a smorgasbord of choices for people on the fringes and wanna-bes alike.

Join who you want

Togetherness and community are words bandied about in acceptable current narratives and social media is the way we do it while real experiences of engaging with your buddies and others happen at festivals as in Burning Man or massive events like the Olympic Games. Symbols, posters and objects of design display these trending ideologies.

California is an exhibition that takes you through a journey of fairly ordinary objects that you look at and think so what? Some are even ugly and distasteful. But there is a ‘but’ coming up – you can’t help but marvel at the innovation of it all, the meander down memory lane for those of us who remember, the ultimate pleasure in knowing that daily living has become a whole lot easier if not simpler and that we can relish the unstoppability of what’s to come.

California: Designing Freedom is on until 4 March 2018 at the Design Museum in Helsinki.