Born in Campegine in 1930 in a peasant family, he abandoned his studies after obtaining an elementary school diploma.
Son of the first post-war mayor of his hometown, he became passionate about Russian literature by learning its language. Over the years he learns many other languages, including all the Slavic languages, many Siberian languages, the Etruscan, the Basque, the Eskimo and the Mongolian, which deepens and compares in publications that compose a vast bibliography.
Bertani’s works include the first rutulo-Italian dictionary (with an attached comparison between the rutulo – oral language spoken by a small community of Dagestan – and the Basque) and many essays on the languages of the Etruscans, the Maya, the Indios of Patagonia and of the Land of Fire.
Other publications concern research carried out by Bertani on the folklore of his homeland. While continuing to work as a farmer, Bertani collaborates with various universities, with the Royal Academy of Sweden and with several independent scholars.
In the mid-nineties he donated his very rich personal library to the Municipality of Campegine, for whose conservation and dissemination the Fondo Riccardo Bertani was created.