The World’s Most Famous Lie Detector

Nestled in a church portico in the center of Rome, a tourist could easily walk by the Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verita’. You may recognize the face below from the 1953 film Roman Holiday, but if not, here are the instructions: 1) place hand in the face’s open mouth;  2) (if you dare) tell a lie; 3) Check to see whether you still have your hand.

 

 
A Brief History
The Bocca has lived at the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (photo below) since the 17th century, and originates from the 1st century. For the intermediate 16 centuries it could have been a sewer cover or part of a fountain, though scholars do agree that the face is one of the gods. This author posits that it was actually used as the cover of a temple water collector and that the god is Oceanus.
 
 
A Visit
Open daily: 9 am – 1 pm; 3 pm – 6 pm 
 
Mouth of Truth, Rome, Italy

Photo by Jeremy Thompson via Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0

 
Nearby Sights
When planning a visit to the Bocca della Verità, consider that the following sights, plotted on the map below for your planning convenience, are nearby and walkable (walking time from the Colosseum is about 15 minutes):

  

 
 


View Rome, near Bocca della Verità in a larger map 
 
 
 
Photo of Bocca della Verità by S. Lo
Photo of Santa Maria in Cosmedin with fountain by fspugna
 
 
Italy map with Rome
 

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