Mouth of Truth legend

Mouth of Truth: All About Famous Mask of Truth in Rome

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You may have heard of the Mouth of Truth already given its fame in the old movie Roman Holiday starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.

Here you can find out all there is to know about it so that you can impress your travel buddies with your knowledge.

What is the Mouth of Truth Rome?

The Bocca della Verità is a large marble disc with a man’s face with a beard on it. At 1.75 metres in diameter it is pretty large and unmissable. It is also said to weigh over 1300 kilograms.

Located in the external walls of the Basilica Santa Maria Cosmedin, the Mouth Of Truth has a pretty interesting legend associated with it. The area around the Basilica – the Piazza della Bocca della Verità – used to be a cattle market – we’ll explain the significance of this later.

When Was the Mouth of Truth in Rome Italy Built?

The Bocca della Verita is thought to date back to the 1st century CE. It was carved with holes in the eyes and mouth and its exact origins are disputed.

What Was the Mouth of Truth Used For?

The exact use of the Bocca della Verità is not really known, but some theories relate back to the cattle market that used to stand in the Piazza della Bocca della Verità.

Known as the Forum Boarium, it's the place where all the cattle trades were made. One theory is that cattle that were slaughtered as a gift to the god Hercules had their blood drained through the mouth in the mask. Pretty gross, we know.

What’s the Best Time to Visit the Mouth of Truth Rome Italy?

Mouth of Truth in Rome

Try to visit early in the morning or later in the day if you are visiting Rome during the high season to avoid the crowds. For more information on when is the best time to visit any of the attractions in Rome check out this guide.

The Mouth of Truth Facts and Legends That Only Locals Know

Unless you research the Bocca della Verità in advance, there are probably a few facts that you won’t be aware of.

Here are some of them here:

  • Why the mask is called the Mouth of Truth: Legend has it that the mask will bite off the hand of any liar that sticks their hand inside!
  • The cheating wife rumour: Rumour has it that a man that mistrusted his wife brought her there to check her loyalty. Before she put her hand in – which would surely have exposed that she was cheating – she pretended to trip and “coincidentally” her lover was walking past. He caught her. This meant that when she swore she had only been in the arms of 2 men – her husband and the “ random man” that just caught her – she wasn’t busted for lying.
  • Sewer face: Some locals claim the mask was nothing more than an elaborate manhole covering and that the holes in the face were purely for drainage.
  • Temple of Hercules: There is also evidence to suggest that the mask was placed over a spring in the Temple of Hercules so that the spring would rise and buble through the mouth.

About the Movie Roman Holiday

The mask of truth was made famous in the movie Roman Holiday. Featuring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, it has tourists running to stick their hands in the mask's mouth more than half a century later. Check out this iconic 1953 movie before your trip to Rome to get you in the mood.

Mouth of Truth Rome Tickets & Price

La bocca della verita legend

It did use to be free to visit the Mouth of Truth in Rome. Now, the nearby church has introduced a €2 for anyone over 10 years old to generate funds for the renovation of the Basilica di S. Maria in Cosmedin.

Mouth of Truth Hours

It can be visited starting from 9.30am until the last guests are admitted at 5.50pm.

Where is the Mouth of Truth Rome Located?

The mask can be seen in the walls of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church. You can get there by taking the metro to Circo Massimo and walking the 1 kilometre to the church grounds.

Tips for Visiting

Often visitors will pair a visit to the Mouth of Truth Rome to a trip inside the church to see St. Valentine's Skull. If you wish to do so then make sure you wear clothes in keeping with the Roman catholic dress code.

Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions faq visit colosseum rome

What is the tradition associated with the bocca della verità?

Local tradition holds that any liar who sticks their hand into the Mouth of Truth will lose it! So it is known as an ancient lie detector.

How old is the Mouth of Truth?

The marble structure dates back to the first century CE.

Can you stick your hand in the Mouth of Truth?

Stick your hand into the Mouth of Truth and you will lose 2 euros.

Who made the Mouth of Truth?

No one is exactly sure of the origins.


Now that you have all the information you need to know about the Mouth of Truth, why not start to plan your trip. You’ll find all the information you need about the Colosseum attractions here. In addition, you may want to book skip the line tickets, especially if you are short on time or travelling with children. Find out how to do that, and more, here.

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