Though this is one of Rome's oldest churches, with a haunting, almost exotic interior, it plays second fiddle to the renowned artifact installed in the church portico. The Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) is in reality nothing more than an ancient drain cover, unearthed during the Middle Ages. Legend has it, however, that the teeth will clamp down on a liar's hand... and to tell a lie with your hand in the fearsome mouth is to risk losing it. Hordes of tourists line up to take the test every day, with kids especially getting a kick out of it. Few churches, inside or out, are as picturesque as this one. The church was built in the 6th century for the city's burgeoning Greek population. Heavily restored at the end of the 19th century, it has the typical basilica form, and stands across from the Piazza della Bocca della Verità, originally the location of the Forum Boarium, ancient Rome's cattle market, and later the site of public executions.
Piazza Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome, 00153, Italy