La Bocca Della Verità – The Mouth of Truth

La Bocca della Verità or the Mouth of Truth is Rome’s Famous Lie Detector:

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Bocca Della Verità © Travel Signposts

To test if a friend, spouse or partner is telling the truth, pay a visit to La Bocca Della Verità, the Mouth of Truth. A medieval belief is that the mouth would snap shut over the hand of anyone who dares to tell a lie while his/her hand is in the mouth.

The Mouth of Truth

Believed to be over 2,000 years old, the Bocca Della Verità is a huge stone disc set into the wall of the portico of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. This man-like marble face with its mouth gaping open is an attraction for visitors to Rome, many wanting to try out this ancient lie detector.

There are many theories, myths and legends as to the origin of La Bocca della Verità. A popular theory is that it was a drain cover. Some believe that it was a cover of a sacred well, others believe it was a fountain and yet others believe it to have been a river God.

The Mouth of Truth has been made famous by many films. Anyone who remembers the 1953 film Roman Holiday will recall the scene where Joe (Gregory Peck) pulls his hand out of the mouth and it appears to be missing, causing Anya (Audrey Hepburn) to scream.

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Bocca della Verita

Santa Maria in Cosmedin

The plain but beautiful church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin was built in the 6th century on the site of an ancient market.

In the 7th century it was called de Schola Graeca as it was located near many Byzantine structures. Around 782, the church was decorated by Greek monks who were escaping iconoclastic persecutions. Because of its beauty, the church was described as cosmedin or ornate (from the Greek kosmidion). The elegant Romanesque bell tower and portico were added during the 12th century.

Getting there

Santa Maria in Cosmedin is in the Piazza della Bocca della Verità.  The quickest way of getting there is by Metro Line B – get off at Circo Massimo.

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