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04.02.2015 Estonian Ambassador to Italy: All Roads Lead to Rome



Celia Kuningas-Saagpakk, author of the blog and Estonian Ambassador to Italy


On the story of the opening of the exhibition of Enn Kunila’s art collection Nordic Colours. Estonian Art 1910-1945 at the Vittoriano exhibition and museum complex in Rome


Even the longest journey begins with the first step. From that point onward, one must have the stamina to carry on to the end of the road! On our way to the World Exposition in Milan, we were asked to stop in Rome to introduce ourselves in greater detail. As is customary in Italy, everything came up very suddenly and so we did not have much time to prepare our event. Many people doubted if this kind of major undertaking could be carried out at all so quickly but in our hearts, we knew that we could not miss this opportunity. In the end result, we can say that every little exertion made in the name of the success of this exhibition was worthwhile. We have received a great deal of positive feedback, and interest in the exhibition has not tailed off even for a moment. I am sincerely thankful for the fact that there are art patrons in our country who do not feel that it is too much to ask to support our country so that we can succeed together in representing Estonia abroad in the best possible way.


It can definitely be said that people in this city are very spoiled with culture and art, so if you are going to pester local art gourmets with an exhibition, you have to bring the best that you have to offer. If you bring classic paintings of the highest quality, people here know how to appreciate it. Our exhibition Nordic Colours. Estonian Art 1910-1945 consisting of paintings from Enn Kunila’s collection, which brings together 45 paintings by 19 artists and focuses on paintings created by Estonian artists at home and abroad, primarily in Italy, immediately won the hearts of the public.


Back when Konrad Mägi left Italy, it is hardly likely that he thought that one day his works will be back here hanging on the walls of one of the finest museums in the City of Rome for all to admire. He nevertheless would have had every reason to think about that because when you are talented and capable of touching people through excellent art or music, you will never be forgotten. All Estonians should dream more boldly!


I have a delightful story for everyone who is more interested in what goes on behind the scenes of such a major event. We were planning to offer our guests Estonian cuisine at the opening event because food is the main theme of this year’s World Exposition in Milan. To this end, we had located a chef from Estonia and even ordered the ingredients according to his instructions.

Unfortunately, as fate would have it, our chef unexpectedly fell ill and so we were on the verge of despair just a few days before the event. It is not easy to find a good chef! All of Estonia’s best chefs were already long since occupied and so we had to find someone locally. Luckily, no predicament is insoluble when you have friends. When they heard about my problem, our colleagues immediately offered their help and so we found chefs from Latvia and Norway. Nordic-Baltic cooperation turned out to be excellent because Rudolfs and Cato were simply fabulous! They managed to rise to the challenge, which was much like the finals of a competition of master chefs: just a few hours, foodstuffs ordered from Estonia and an Estonian cookbook, and presto, Estonian hors d’oeuvres were ready! The only ingredient that they were unable to use up was 3 kg of garlic but we forgive them for that. Just between ourselves, that was such an enormous amount that it could have been used to kill half the world’s vampires!


Appeared in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blog on 4 February 2015