Sat Apr 18, 6:32 pm ET
Levi Montalcini, who also serves as a senator for life in
She shared the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine with American Stanley Cohen for discovering mechanisms that regulate the growth of cells and organs.
"At 100, I have a mind that is superior — thanks to experience — than when I was 20," she told the party, complete with a large cake for her.
The Turin-born Levi Montalcini recounted how the anti-Jewish laws of the 1930s under Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime forced her to quit university and do research in an improvised laboratory in her bedroom at home.
"Above all, don't fear difficult moments," she said. "The best comes from them."
"I should thank Mussolini for having declared me to be of an inferior race. This led me to the joy of working, not any more unfortunately, in university institutes but in a bedroom," the scientist said.
Her white hair elegantly coifed and wearing a smart navy blue suit, she raised a glass of sparkling wine in a toast to her long life.
Z: will days like hers soon be coming to conservatives shunned enough that we'll have to go into hiding to do our work or to tell the truth? I pray that won't be the case, but this shows the light can still shine.