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Photographer's Note

Arguably the most famous manhole cover (maybe) in history! I love the colors in this shot. This is the Bocca della Verita, an ancient sculpture located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, also reportedly home to the relics of St. Valentine. It's unclear exactly what its original function was, however. Some think that it's a piece of a first-century ancient Roman fountains, and others have asserted that it's a manhole cover. It may portray a deity, or possibly represent the ancient god of the Tiber river. The origin of its reputation as a medieval lie detector is likewise obscure. The story began some time in the Middle Ages that if one told a lie with their hand in its mouth, it would be bitten off. No report on how many times this actually happened, however! It's also been in this location for quite a long time. It was moved to its present location in the 17th century. The sculpture was just local tradition until it became wildly popular after making an appearance in the 1953 film Roman Holiday, so now, be prepared to wait in line for a bit until your turn to take a photo with your hand in the mouth. Reproductions now abound: there are apparently electronic coin-operated ones in Spain, Hungary, Croatia, the UK and Japan.

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Additional Photos by Terez Anon (terez93) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 74 W: 76 N: 412] (1124)
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