The son of a mathematician, he studied arts and law in Pisa. In 1685, he was appointed to a professorship of civil law at Pisa, a post he held until his death. As one of the most celebrated legal teachers of his time, his pupils included leading figures of the Italian Enlightenment such as P. Neri, B. Tanucci, A. Tavanti and G.G. De Soria, as well as several traveling European princes.
Together with Aulisio and Gravina, Averani was among the founders of Neohumanism in Italy. He reformed Pisan legal studies on a Humanist basis, setting an example to other Italian universities and forming the intellectual basis for the reforms of Tuscan Enlightenment statesmen in the second half of the 18th century. His principal work are the Interpretationes iuris civilis, analyses of fragments of the Digests based on Cujas.
Apart from law, Averani was active in theology, astronomy, philosophy and above all experimental physics. The results of his experiments, such as on light, odours, the electricity of bodies and with Robert Boyle's air pump, were well received by contemporaries, including Newton. A member of scientific academies including the Crusca and the Royal Society, Averani founded the Accademia degli Oppressi (Academy of the Oppressed) to hold discussions on physics.
- Weimar, Peter (2001). "Giuseppe Averani". In Michael Stolleis (ed.). Juristen: ein biographisches Lexikon; von der Antike bis zum 20. Jahrhundert (in German) (2nd ed.). München: Beck. p. 50. ISBN 3-406-45957-9.
- (Italian) Biographical record, University of Pisa website, accessed January 2007
- Biographical entry, website of the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence, accessed January 2007