Vintilă Horia graduated from Saint Sava National College, one of the oldest high schools in Bucharest, then studied law and letters and philosophy at Italian and Austrian universities. During World War II, he was taken prisoner by the Nazis in Italy and sent to the concentration camps of Karpacz and Mariapfarr; he was released a year later by the British.
After being convicted in absentia in a show trial in Romania, then dominated by the USSR, he lived in exile from his homeland in Italy. In 1948, he moved to Argentina, where he taught at the University of Buenos Aires, then lived in Spain, where he was a researcher in Italian studies.
He won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in 1960 for his novel God Was Born in Exile, but refused to accept it due to criticism from left-wing French intellectuals.