Daughter of a wealthy Italian industrialist, she was born in Rome, Italy. As a child she was kidnapped, the kidnappers trying to extort money from her millionaire father.
Without her parent s knowledge she attended a motor racing school with her friend, the late Elio de Angelis.
She started racing in 1981 in Formula Abarth in 1981. She won a number of races between 1981 and 1984.
She raced in Italian F3 in 1985-86, turning in some good results and the occasional win, especially in 1986 driving a Dallara 386 VW.
1987 saw her enter F3000 with BS Automotive in a Lola T87/50 Cosworth. In four attempts she failed to qualify three times. in 1988 she joined the Colt team in a Lola T88/50 with a Nicholson-prepared Cosworth engine. In eight races she failed to qualify 4 times but managed to finish in 10th at Jerez and Monza.
In 1989 she tried a season of F3000 in Japan without much success.
Giovanna returned to International F3000 in Europe in 1990, but despite switching teams and cars on numerous occasions she still only managed to qualify twice out of the 10 races she attended and they were both in 26th place.
In 1991 with a GJ Motorsports Reynard 91D Cosworth, she qualified 7 times, including an 11th-place grid spot at Hockenheim. She also managed a fine 7th place finish, just one spot outside of the points, at the Le Mans Bugatti track. During this time she was apparently romantically involved with Flavio Briatore.
Come 1992 Amati landed an F1 seat with Brabham. Brabham were looking to sign Japanese F3000 champion Akihiko Nakaya who had both money and talent, but the FIA didn't recognise Japanese F3000 and would not grant him a superlicence, however Amati did qualify for one. Thus she became only the 5th woman to have raced in the World Championship, the others being Maria Theresa de Fillipis, Lella Lombardi, Divina Galica and Desire Wilson.
She failed to qualify in South Africa and Mexico and after failing to qualify in Brazil she was replaced by Damon Hill for the Spanish Grand Prix, where he also failed to qualify.
In 1993 she won the Women's European Championship in the Porsche SuperCup and racing in the Ferrari Challenge from 1994 to 1996, she scored some podium finishes, and also ran midfield in a Calloway Corvette in the BPR series.
In 1998, she again competed in the Ferrari Challenge in a Ferrari 355, while also taking part in the International Sports Racing Series in an Alfa Romeo Giudici Gaiero SPN.
She did the Sebring 12hrs in a BMW M3. She had a nasty moment in qualifying whe she was hit by a slower car which she had just overtaken. In the race, co-driving with Craig Carter and Andy Petery, she retired.
She continued in sports cars for a couple more years before concentrating on being a motor sport journalism on TV and in print in Italy.