In his Folio “L’Anfiteatro Flavio”, Carlo Fontana explores, describes and analyses the Flavian Amphitheater (aka the Colosseum) in its various states and with its number of different uses throughout history. The first edition of the book was published posthumously in 1725, a copy of which is available at the Werner Oechslin Foundation Library in Einsiedeln.
The exact dimensions of the folio are 450 mm x 340 mm x 30 mm. 24 of the total 230 pages are illustrations. Its size and age make the book rather fragile, which is why it is kept in a protective box at the Library.
Fontana’s Folio is comprised of an extensive introduction and five volumes, each dedicated to one specific aspect of the Flavian Amphitheater’s history and subdivided into several chapters.
In the introduction, Fontana provides the reader with a detailed history of origin, the building process and most important builders of antique theatres and amphitheatres. He uses examples of several historic edifices to explain his research.
In the main parts, the five books, Fontana focuses solely on the Flavian amphitheater. The Libro Primo explores the current state of the amphitheater, as it stands during Fontana’s lifetime. The main focus of the first book is on its beautiful illustrations and ground plans by Fontana himself.
In the Libro Secondo Fontana analyses the amphitheater in its original state, both in word and illustrations. He also compares the original to the current state.
The Libro Terzo entails a study of the profane, or secular aspects of the Amphiteatro Flavio, including its construction, its uses and the festivities celebrated there.
Contrasting the third book, the Libro Quarto is a study of the sacred aspects of the Amphiteatre consisting primarily of a list of saints that were martyred at the colosseum.
Finally, in the Libro Quinto, Fontana proposes a way to restore the honor of the amphitheate, by building a variety of sacred places in its interior and from it’s preserved parts.