GHISLAINE MILORD SENT US A PHOTO OF “A MOUTH OF TRUTH” – AN ANCIENT VENETIAN ‘SNITCH BOX’

A few of them still exist today. This one, photographed by Ghislaine Milord, a Newfoundlander who knows Venice top to bottom, writes “this box is at the Zattere vaporetto stop.”

Embedded in the walls of key justice, civic or church buildings across the city, the bocche di leone (Mouth of the Lion) look like ornate letterboxes. Typically carved with the open-mouthed faces of the emblematic lion of VENICE, the slots were intended for the use of ordinary citizens and subjects.

Residents in the 1300’s would have seen them springing up all over the place as every district had one. But this was not a mail service. It cost nothing to post your letter and there could only be one destination: the Council of Ten.  Upstanding residents, and not-so upstanding ones too, were encouraged to bring criminal, unsanitary, immoral or treasonous matters to the state’s attention by writing letters to the Council.  For details on the Mouth of Truth, as well as the justice system of ancient VENICE & ITALY in general, check out this great website – L’Italo Americano at – https://italoamericano.org/story/2017-11-16/venice-mouth-truth

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