Il Tutto Ristretto in Poco

Il Tutto Ristretto in Poco - Book 11

Giuseppe Colombani


Giuseppe Colombani (1676-1735/6) was an Italian soldier, fencing master, and a dentist also known as the Pride of Lombardi (l'Alfier Lombardo). He faught as a soldier from 1693-1694 in Piedmont against the armies of Nicolas Catinat, Marshal of France under Louis XIV. He became skilled in the art of fencing and made a generous income from teaching young nobles how to fence, worked as a puppeteer while travelling through Spain and Italy and performed as a tightrope walker. After meeting a respected "tooth-puller" and marring his daughter, Apollonia, together they practiced dentistry in Venice. To practice in the republic, one had to pass a fairly rigorous exam. Colombani was among few that managed to obtain permission to practice. He and his wife set up shop on Piazza San Marco. It was said the Colombani was the best practitioner of medicine and dentistry only equaled by his wife. A 1724 published autobiography
of Giuseppe Colombani claimed he pulled a half a million teeth. Apollonia Colombani published her work in 1719 where she showed women to be equal to men in such practices and declared that she had extracted more than 5,000 teeth. The Colombanis were considered quacks but after giving up deception they became well-respected dentists in Venice and made a fortune off of their practice.

One of Giuseppe's publications, "Il Tutto Ristretto in Poco ó Sia il Tesoro Aperto", which
translates to: "All that is restricted a little is an open treasure"; The book's subtitle describes this "open treasure" where each one can be enriched with virtues, health, and wealth. The book includes three parts and is considered the first published Italian work on dentistry. Part one of the book describes Colombani’s method of treating teeth, part two describes dental instruments and remedies for a toothache, and part three focuses on astrology.

(Based on research done by Jenna Freda class of 2021 as part of her assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2017-2018. Edited by Ronna Abaeyv – Class of 2021.)

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