Piazza Bocca della Verità and Its Fountain

"Piazza Bocca della Verità and Its Fountain" submitted by RomeTour Editorial Team and last updated on Saturday 2nd July 2011

Piazza Bocca della Verità is one of the most characteristic places in Rome corresponding to the Foro Boario, one of the most beautiful buildings of Republican Rome. Here is the temple of Fortuna Virile, an example of Greek-Italian architecture, built around 100 BC; and the Temple of Vesta (so called because is similar to the temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum) built in the Augustan age.

Piazza della Bocca della Verita
In ancient times it was a market zone attached to the river port at Isola Tiberina. It was compound of Foro Olitoio (green-gross market) and Foro Boario (cattle market); close to them bankers and money changers were leading their activity in Velabrum close by.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire this zone was occupied by Greek colony. Till the 50's-60's of the 20th century all the territory was densely populated, but due to politics of cleaning of the area around the ancient monuments, it lost most of the residences.
Fountain of piazza bocca della verità, close to two ancient temples
The fountain of Piazza Bocca della Verità (Fontana di piazza bocca della verità) is close to two ancient temples [Temple of Ercole Vincitore or Vesta (Hercules the Winner) and Temple of Portunus or Fortune (Tempio di Portuno/ Fortuna Virilis)] was erected here by order of Clement XI in 1715. It was projected by Carlo Bizzaccheri and executed by F.Moratti.
fountain of Piazza Bocca della Verità (Fontana di piazza bocca della verità)
The name of the square derives from the big circular stone (1.75m diameter) named "Mouth of Truth" (Bocca della Verita'), representing a human face, the open mouth of which was believed to close on the hand of any perjurer who faced the ordeal of placing it there. It is in fact a slab that once closed an ancient drain, and was placed in portico of the church of S.Maria in Cosmedin in 1632.

There is an interesting story about why Mouth of Truth doesn't work any more. Once a jealous husband decided to control if his suspicions about his wife's unfaithfulness were true and had her to put the hand in the open mouth of the mask. The performance had a huge number of spectators. Suddenly a man jumped out of the crowd and started kissing and embracing the wife. It was explained as the man was absolutely crazy and he was let go. In reality it was her lover. Thus, when she put her hand in the mouth of justice she said that was never touched by no one apart from her husband and this crazy man. So, her hand was not bitten, but the Mouth of Truth, treated so bad, refused to work any longer.

At the end of the square is the Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, built in the 11th century upon a great porticoed building. The church was then given to the Greeks who established themselves near the Tiber. The façade dates back to the 18th century, the bell tower to the 12th century. Inside the portico is the famous “Mouth of truth” – a drain cover in the style of a mask – linked to the famous legend: it was believed that if one told a lie with his hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off.

Piazza Bocca della Verità
Piazza Bocca della Verità (Via dei Cerchi)
00186, Rome, Lazio, Italy
Zone: Rione Ripa (Circo Massimo - Bocca Verità - Aventino) (Roma centro)
Piazza Bocca della Verità is Shown By "Map K Zone" As "49"
Transport: See Basilica/ Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin

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