The Mouth of Truth and Other Lies

Mom and Dad were pooped, so we kept our eyes out for a taxi for them as we walked the street that parallels the Circus Maximus. At the same time, we peered into the grassy indentation of this famous Roman oval from 300 B.C.E.

An ancient stadium once stood here, the site of wildly popular chariot races; today, dogs lope the length with their masters in quick pursuit, out for a day of exercise. Patches of archaeological excavations dotting the grassy fields are the only remnants of this once-glorious entertainment complex of ancient Rome.

Ready, set, GO? Maybe not...

Gino hailed a taxi and we waved goodbye to Mom and Dad as they sped away on another wild ride through the streets of Rome. On our own, we picked up the pace, hurrying towards Trastevere — until one of the things on my “To See This Time” list came into view: the Bocca della Verita’ — the Mouth of Truth.

La Bocca della Verita'

Located in the portico of the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, this huge, round sculptured face has an unknown origin, but is commonly thought to have been built in the 4th century as a drain cover or possibly a fountain. Standing on its side it is as tall as a person. A frightening face is carved into the circle’s center: hollow eyes, prominent nose, and a gaping mouth all surrounded by tousled hair.

Brave tourists tempting fate

Today it serves as a lie detector of sorts: tourists line up to have their photos taken as they insert their hand into the face’s mouth. Woe be to anyone who lies while doing so — the hand will be severed by the lie-detecting mouth!

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