Joyce Mariani has a deep love for the culture of Italy handed down from her family which is of Florentine origin and Roman origin. Upon her return to Cleveland from Italy where she studied and worked, she founded the Cleveland Italian Film Festival in 2006 and the first independent film festival in Northeast Ohio to showcase Italian Oscar winning films at Cleveland area theaters drawing audience from all over Northeast Ohio.
In 2007 she formed the Italian Cultural Garden Foundation spearheading a $1.5 million Renaissance Restoration Project for Cleveland’s public cultural monument to Italy in Rockefeller Park and serves as its executive director.
In 2008 she founded Viva! La Cultura Italiana cultural series presenting the cultural arts of Italy and revived the annual “Opera in the Italian Garden” after a sixty-five year absence presenting The Cleveland Opera and the Cleveland Ballet that draws over 3,000 people each year.
In 2011 in an effort to highlight the culinary arts of Italy, she created an annual Pranzo presenting specialized cuisine from the different regions of Italy prepared by distinguished Cleveland chefs.
She was presented the Italian Heritage Award in 2008 by Mayor Frank Jackson at Cleveland City Hall for her re-education of the public about the historical importance of the 1930 Italian Cultural Garden as a public cultural monument to Italy and for her dedication to the cultural arts of Italy. As a mezzo soprano she has performed with the National Orchestra of Italy, throughout Italy and Europe and at Severance Hall.
She served on the Executive Board of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens Federation, has lectured on Renaissance gardens, and is currently writing about newly discovered historical information pertaining to the creation of the Italian Cultural Garden.