Rome, Italy

Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, Italy

This Church, standing near the Tiber in the Aventine area of Rome, is on many a tourist agenda purely so they can stick their hand in the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) as Cary Grant did in "Roman Holiday". So much so that most don't pay any attention at all to the Church itself, which has a 4th Century base with most of the visible architecture dating to 12th Century, including the best Romanesque Belltower I saw in Rome, very elegant indeed.

A Baroque facade was added to the Church but this was removed in the 19th Century, leaving the Church with its early medieval appearance. The interior is dark, but atmospheric, the Church being surprisingly large.

The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth)

Inevitably, I too was drawn to the Bocca which is set into a wall in the portico. Legend has it that if you stick your hand into the mouth and are untruthful the jaws will clamp shut. I came back with both hands intact I'm pleased to say, having queued with a coachful of Japanese tourists for the privilege. In truth it is thought that the Bocca is a drain cover dating to before the 4th Century - quiet why the builders of the Church put it where it is will remain a mystery forever!

Photo - Andrew J. Müller

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