Since my last visit to Venice I have read about the mouths of truth and that is why I am so desperate to go back..............I have to find them! This is what I read which started it and I know I cannot rest until I see them!
"Wandering around the alleyways of Venice you will probably come across the stone faces of lions and gargoyles set into the walls of public buildings. In Renaissance times, when Venice was an independent city-state, these mouths of truth were used as places where malicious Venetians could make a denunciation by posting a name into the lion’s mouth. Two witnesses were needed in order to bring a suspect to trial, but these were cruel times and punishments were harsh"
"So voracious was their (the Council of Ten) desire to pry that, throughout Venice, they set up the famous Lions' Mouths, by which Venetians could inform the Council anonymously of their suspicions of their neighbours."
It has been said that many a person regretted posting a note as soon as it left their hands - but once posted, it could never be retrieved.
These anonymous letters were taken very seriously and if the charge was found to be false, the accuser would be put to death!
The most famous mouth is in The Doges palace. Each mouth was for a specific crime — one being for tax evasion. Two others are missing from the wall; they were destroyed by Napoleon since they were in the shape of Lions, the symbol of the Republic of Venice, which Napoleon conquered.
I have been told that in the Jewish Quarter there is a hidden mouth of truth that was only for women - enabling a woman to denounce her neighbour for adultery, laziness or jealousy. I simply have to find that one!
The legend was that if a woman told a lie with her hand placed inside the mouth, it would be bitten off. One priest is reputed to have placed scorpians inside so that anyone telling an untruth would have their fingers stung!
I wonder how many women hidden by a hooded cloak swept through the narrow cobbled streets at the dead of night to slip a note into that mouth?
"These were the terrible Lions’ Mouths. These were the throats down which went the anonymous accusation thrust in secretly in the dead of night by an enemy, that doomed many an innocent man to walk the Bridge of Sighs and descend into the dungeon which none entered and hoped to see the sun again." - Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad
When I find them will I have the courage to slip my fingers inside?