Saturday, November 23, 2019

Santa Maria in Cosmedin

where: Piazza della Bocca della Verità, 18, Ripa
getting there: metro - linea B/Circo Massimo
open: daily 9:30-17:00

Most visitors come to Santa Maria in Cosmedin not to visit the ancient church, but instead to line-up and see the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità) a large, round marble face with the gaping mouth made famous in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.
Legend surrounding the Bocca della Verità is that your hand will be bitten off if you tell a lie after placing it in the statue's mouth, but actually the marble disc is thought to have once been an ancient drain cover or man-hole from the area.
Long queues begin to appear quite early in the morning to visit the Mouth of Truth, but if it is just the church you wish to see walk to the right of the portico and enter the church.

The origins of Santa Maria in Cosmedin can be traced back to the early 6th century where a church was built on the ruins of a temple to Hercules which is still visible in the crypt.
The basilica which can be seen today was enlarged in the 8th century by Pope Hadrian I and has undergone may restorations over the years including a Baroque makeover 1718. This makeover was later removed and the church was restored to the perception of  Medieval appearance.
In the sacristy are fragments of mosaics saved from the original Saint Peters and moved to the church in 1639.
The second chapel on the left of the church is dedicated to Saint Valentine and his head is in a reliquary below a large altarpiece of the saint. Every year on Saint Valentine's Day the head is covered with red roses.

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Getting Around

I found walking Rome was the best way to see everything.

The metro, trams and buses are also an easy and cheap option.

Buses and the metro can get crowded. Tickets must be bought before boarding and validated.

Beware of pickpockets.

Buses 40 (express) and 64 start at Termini and end near Saint Peter's, traveling past places of interest, returning the same way.

Some stops along the 64 route are:


Piazza Venezia

Via Nazionale

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II

Bus 75 takes you past the Colosseum to Trastevere

Bus 910 takes you to Villa Borghese

Ticket Options

€1.50 B.I.T (Biglietto Integrato a Tempo) is the standard ticket valid for one metro, unlimited tram or bus rides within 100 minutes.

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Purchasing Bus and Metro tickets.

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Large fines apply to travelers not holding or validating their ticket. Tickets once validated start from the time they have been stamped.

These are a few of my favourite books about Rome

The Cardinal's Hat by Mary Hollingsworth
This book tells the story of one of the sons of Lucrezia Borgia who became a cardinal during the 16th century.

The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev
I love this book telling the story of Caterina Sforza who was fighting against the Borgia pope to retain the rights of her land and her freedom.

The Popes by John Julius Norwich
A detailed but easy and enjoyable book to read about the history of the papacy and the popes.

The Pope's Daughter by Caroline P Murphy
This book describes in beautiful detail, the life and times of Pope Julius II daughter, Felice della Rovere.

The Families Who Made Rome by Anthony Majanlahti
I love this Book! It explains the families who made Rome what it is as we see it today and also looks at their triumphs, scandals and failures.

Rome by Robert Hughes
This book explains Rome from its beginning and expands on the Renaissance and Baroque until present times.

The Lost Painting by Jonathan Harr
Another of my favourite reads about a lost Caravaggio painting and the search for its provenance.

other sites I trust for information on Rome are:
Rome Art Lover
Churches of Rome wiki