Local Legends to Explore When You Study History in Rome

Study Abroad in Italy

With such a long and rich history, it’s no surprise that Rome, also known as the Eternal City, has developed numerous local legends over the centuries. From spooky ghost stories to rumors that have lasted the ages, the many nooks and crannies of Rome are often steeped in history – some true, and some still open to speculation.

Which legends have persisted over the ages? Read on to find out!

The Mouth of Truth: An Ancient Lie Detector to Visit While You Study Abroad in Italy

Like all good local legends, the origin of the Mouth of Truth remains a mystery to this day. Some historians say that the haunting and mysterious Mouth of Truth was originally a fountain during the first century. Others claim it was a drain cover.

The Mouth of Truth is located about a 20 minute walk away from John Cabot University

The Mouth of Truth is located about a 20 minute walk away from John Cabot University

Whatever its original purpose, today the Bocca della Verità, or Mouth of Truth, is best known as an ancient lie detector. According to legends, a liar who puts a hand into the Mouth of Truth will have their hand bitten clean off.

Want to test the Mouth of Truth while you study abroad in Italy? You’re in luck! It’s located just a 20 minute walk from the Tiber campus of John Cabot University.

Throw a Coin Into the Trevi Fountain to Guarantee Another Visit to Rome

Designed in 1732 by the architect Nicola Salvi, the Trevi Fountain is one of the most well-known and beloved fountains in the world. In fact, it has made appearances in several famous movies, including Roman Holiday, Three Coins in a Fountain and La Dolce Vita.

While this gorgeous baroque depiction of the ocean god Oceanus is worth seeing for its beauty alone, there’s also another famous reason visitors put this site at the top of their to-see list. According to local legend, if you throw a coin into the fountain, it guarantees that you’ll return to the Eternal City.

A JCU student throws a coin into the Trevi Fountain

A JCU student throws a coin into the Trevi Fountain

International students in Italy just need to face away from the fountain, and throw a coin over their left shoulder to ensure that they return to Rome for another visit. Their coins will also be put to good use by the city of Rome – every evening they’re collected and donated to charities.

Try to Spot the Ghost Carriage of the Ponte Sisto Bridge While you Study Abroad in Italy

As history students know, Rome’s past has often featured colorful characters. Some were known for their kindness. Others, not so much. One such unloved character was the powerful Donna Olimpia Maidalchini Pamphilj. According to historians, she rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most powerful women in Rome during the 17th century.

She achieved this stunning ascent through a series of strategic marriages, before eventually becoming the trusted advisor of her brother-in-law Pope Innocent X. Olimpia Maidalchini was disliked by many, and so when she knew that the pope was on his deathbed, she piled her gold into a carriage and bolted out of the city before her enemies could strip her of her wealth and power.

According to some local legends, the ghost of her carriage can sometimes be seen rushing along the Ponte Sisto, a bridge that’s just a few minutes from JCU!

What other local legends would you like to investigate while you study history in Rome?

Find out how JCU’s location and three day weekends give students the chance to thoroughly explore the Eternal City, as well as the rest of the country.

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