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La Bocca della Verità
A very risky experiment with a lie detector in Rome
by Claudia


Last summer, in Rome, I got a very big fright when I entered the church called Santa Maria in Cosmedin.


In the entrance porch, there is a big monster's face
with an open mouth.


This is no ordinary monster.  This is a famous marble sculpture known as La Bocca della Verità, meaning  'The Mouth of Truth.' 

Hundreds of years ago, people believed that if you told a fib whilst placing your hand in the monster's open mouth, then........ Mamma mia!  It would bite your hand!  

So, you had to make sure that you were telling the truth!


Here is a famous statue by Jules Blanchard.  A person is placing their hand in the Mouth of Truth.  This statue can be seen in Le Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris.

I decided to conduct a dangerous experiment!  I was going to tell una bugia, a fib, whilst placing my hand in 'The Mouth of Truth.'

Che tipo di bugia dovrei dire?  Which kind of fib should I tell?

Here are some of the ideas that I discussed with my sister:
1.  Non mangio le caramelle.  I don't eat sweets.
2.  La mia camera da letto è sempre ordinata.  My bedroom is always tidy.
3.  Mamma odia il cioccolato.  Mum hates chocolate.
4.  Papà è il genio più grande di tutti tempi.  Dad is the greatest genius of all time.

So, which fib was it going to be?

My big sister watched as I placed my hand inside the cold, black mouth. 

"Auguri!" she said.

The monster seemed to be watching and listening.

My heart was thudding with fear. Suddenly, I didn't feel so brave.  Even my big sister looked worried.

"Sono pronta!"  "I'm ready!"

I decided to say something that was definitely not true:- "I think that the Mouth of Truth has a very handsome face!" "Sei bellissimo!"  I announced.

The stone face observed me.  What was it thinking?
Was it flattered?  Did it think it was a compliment or a joke?  Was it obvious that I was telling a fib?


bocca verita.jpg

Mamma mia!  My fear was too great!  I quickly pulled my hand out of the mouth.  I wasn't going to wait and see.

"Secondo me, hai fatto bene!"  "In my opinion, you did the right thing," said my sister in a very serious way.

What would have happened if I'd kept my hand in there?  Has anyone ever had the courage to test la Bocca della Verità?   If so,  I would very much like to meet them.


I Consigli di Claudia
Claudia's Advice Section For Anyone Who Wants To Give It A Try:


1.  Think carefully about the fib you are going to tell.   Do not make it too outrageous.

2.  Do not say anything that could hurt the feelings of the stone sculpture.  Remember that it has been around for about two thousand years and should be treated with respect.

3.  Make sure that a grown-up is with you, just in case you need to be rushed to hospital.

4.  Learn some Italian words that are useful in an emergency, for example:


Aiuto! Help!
Sto male!  I'm not well! 
l'ambulanza the ambulance
Chiama un dottore!  Call a doctor!
la mia mano - my hand


Good luck!
In bocca al lupo!

La Fine

Italian Adventures

Places in Italy

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