Photo via Rome.net
The famous Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth, is best known for it’s supposed mystical ability to detect when someone is lying if they place their hand inside its mouth, and further, to possibly come to life and bite off that hand if they are in fact lying. Don’t worry, Travel Freak still has both hands. The marble sculpture was actually most likely a piece of an ancient Roman fountain or a manhole cover during the period. The face that is portrayed is thought to possibly be Oceanus, a pagan god, by historians, and many Romans claim that the face depicts the ancient god of the Tiber River, which runs through Rome.
Even if you’ve never been to Italy, you might recognize the Mouth of Truth as it has made appearances in many films, most notably in William Wyler’s 1953 Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. A popular favorite scene in the film is when Peck’s character fakes out Hepburn’s by pretending that his hand is actually being eaten by the statue. Word is, while the visit to the sculpture was originally included in the screenplay, the fake out bit was not, and was just Peck playing a little joke on his costar, but the director decided to use the footage because Hepburn’s reaction was just so adorable.
Gif via Gifsoup
In the 17th Century Bocca della Verità was placed in the portico (an entrance area) of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome and it has lived there ever since. If you’re visiting during the high tourist season, the summer months, be sure to leave plenty of time for the Mouth of Truth as the line can usually be seen going out the door that time of year.