La Bocca della Verità: The Mouth of Truth is Totally Lame

Never once in my life have I ever said:

“OMG. You haaaaaaave to see the Mouth of Truth!”

Line at the mouth of truth

Because that would be a lie.

La Bocca della Verità is totally lame.

The most notable thing about it is the line that stretches through its gate at all hours of the day.

To add to the charm of the line which snakes around the corner, there are signs indicating that each person is allowed exactly one photo.

There is also a man who has the job of standing in front of these signs and seems to hate every second of the day.

Waiting at the mouth of truth

However, before totally denouncing this randomly famous marble face publicly, I decided I should probably wait in that line one day, just to be absolutely sure that I was not some how missing something.

We did not intend to stop, but we were in our way towards the centro storico in the rain last weekend and managed to pass by between tour buses.

Ok, I sighed. Let’s do this.

La bocca della verita

The Mouth of Truth became a tourist destination with the popularity of the 1953 film Roman Holiday.

I am not a heartless monster, so I LOVE this film.  I used to own it but our friend Tom borrowed it and never gave it back, so we’re not speaking any more. (Hi, Tom).

Any. ways.

SUPPOSEDLY, in ancient times, the carving was used to separate the honest from the straight up bull sh#$@ers.

Here’s how it worked: If you told a lie and stuck you hand in the mouth, your hand would be instantly chopped off. If you were telling the truth? You got to keep your hand.

This belief gained popularity during medieval times when the disk was used in trials to test the trustworthiness of testimony.

More likely? It’s an ancient drain cover.

tourist at the mouth of truth

I hate lines, but we waited.

Less than 10 minutes later, I was granted my 15 second window in which to take ONE PHOTO and I tried to keep it classy.

La bocca! La bocca! The line manager screamed.

I hesitated.

I remembered the “ONE PHOTO” policy.

And then I went for it.

tell a lie mouth of truth

I kind of hate myself a little bit.

It’s off the bucket list, but it was never on it to begin with because instead of waiting in this:

Line at the mouth of truth

You can just peek through the gate, and get a pretty darn good view because the marble image sits in the outer portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin:

Mouth of truth from the outside

So unless they actual substantiate these crazy rumors that any hands got cut off anywhere near this thing? Skip it.

Instead, walk 5 minutes to the giardino degli aranci for a much cooler fountain head.

I mean, unless you love ruining the romance of a beautiful (make believe) film by waiting in the most unromantic line ever.

La Bocca della Verità
Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18,
Roma, Italy

Opening hours: Every day, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

14 thoughts on “La Bocca della Verità: The Mouth of Truth is Totally Lame

  1. Sa. says:

    this makes me feel old! I was giddy to see it and try it on my Honeymoon, but there was no line, or one photo policy … the church was one of the most peaceful places I had ever been (mind you I had never been anywhere)

    not sure I would wait on line to “see” it, but I am sure glad that I got to when i did

  2. Pingback: Unexpected Rome: The Skull of St. Valentine – An American in Rome

  3. G says:

    I’m from Rome, and that’s what i say to everyone who come to visit.There’s nothing that deserve a one-day-long line there.
    By the way, there is another one (very similar to this) in Museo di Roma in Trastevere (Piazza Sant’Egidio). There were a lot of that in ancient Rome: they actually used them to close the sewers, at pipes’ end, dirty water came out from the mouths.
    Yes, it was a sewer cover. The story of the lies detector was invented first for pilgrims, then for tourists. 😉

    • Natalie says:

      YES! Ugh. Sewer mouths…

      I have not been to the museum in Piazza Sant’Egidio, though, so I will have to add that to the list.

  4. Pingback: Turisti | Go Thou To Rome

  5. tforis says:

    I love this post! So many monuments/historical relics are overrated and it’s so difficult to tell whether something is impressive enough to wait in line to see. I love your posts on the neighborhoods–it’s the places you don’t have to wait in line for that are truly special.

    • Natalie says:

      Thank you! Some things are certainly worth waiting for – but I agree that exploring the neighborhoods can give you a better sense of Rome.

  6. AJ says:

    But you have to go inside… a genuine preschism byzantine basilica, the temple of hercules, a mosaic from old st peter’s, the head of St. Valentine…

  7. Ken says:

    Why the moaning? Yes there’s a queue(5-10mins) .Yes there’s someone “in charge”, thankfully. Otherwise there’d be people taking hundreds of pictures/ videos. He was great , very friendly and taking peoples pictures ONLY if it was helpful. I asked him and he took 20 different ones for me! A charge? Absolutely not! A fairly discrete donations box and it made no difference if you donated or not. The tourists all gain our photo op. The church gains what, for all their supervision, patience and help???
    The Circo Maximo is two minutes away and a pleasant ( very very) low key green space to sit/ picnic/ take coffee. Bus 85 runs to / from Termini to here and also the coliseum in a circular route.
    Those three together gave us a great day out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.