Yours truly and wife Linda
What do visitors to Rome talk about the most?
Is it the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican?
The ancient Colosseum?
The Spanish Steps?
For some it could be something as mundane as a manhole cover -- at least for those who are fans of the 1953 movie "Roman Holiday" starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Most movie-goers probably refer to the wallhanging as the the "Mouth of Truth" which in Italian is "La Bocca della Verita" and became somewhat famous in the movie.
The piece of art is located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. The man-like face was carved from Pavonazzeto marble. The sculpture is though to be part of a 1st century ancient Roman fountain and portrayed one of several possible pagan gods, often believed Oceanus.
A report says that most Romans believe that the "Bocca" represents the ancient god of the River Tiber.
Starting in the Middle Ages, it was believed that if one told a lie with one's hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. The piece was placed at the church in the 17th century.
Visitors to Rome continue to ferret out the church, placing their hand in the mouth as the two lovers did in the movie.
On the particular day my wife and I came upon the scene in the early afternoon, there were about 50 or more people from many nationalities crowded in the small space leading to the artwork.
Everyone wanted to see the artifact and place their hand in the mouth. Cameras were handed back and forth as persons unknown to each other cheerfully shot pictures for posterity.
If there were couples, first a picture of one and then the other, and then both together.
None left with a partial limb. It was a fun and interesting time to be with those brought together by stars such as Hepburn and Peck.
It was one of the highlights of Rome, as were the previously mentioned "must see" sights of this wonderful city.
Next post: Sunday, August 15, 2010