All photos by Andrea Paoletti.




The Dalai Lama pleased the crowds at the opening day of the Festival delle Religioni on September 19, 2017.


Speaking to the thousands gathered at the Mandala Forum, the 14th leader of Tibetan Buddhism spread a message of unity. “Wherever I go, I always propose the unity of the human race, of our seven billion people. Our differences are superficial, deep down we are one. Everyone, from birth, has the right and potential to be happy.”


On the issue of terrorism, he commented, “Today we often hear the word terrorism used alongside the word religion ... I am very much against calling a religious person such because when you kill you are no longer Muslim or Buddhist, you are just a terrorist.”


Mayor Dario Nardella presented the Dalai Lama with the seal of peace, the highest and oldest honour of the City of Florence before Gyatso was joined on stage by the president of Italian national broadcaster Rai Monica Maggioni, the president of the Union of Italian Islamic Communities and imam of Florence Izzedin Elzir, the former president of the European University Institute Joseph Weiler and Father Enzo Bianchi to debate the theme of Freedom in Rules.


The religious leader last visited the Tuscan capital 18 years ago during a peace parade through the city centre, followed by an open meeting on the topic of interreligious dialogue.

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