December 02, 2009
My Favorite Street: Via Roma, Scarperia, Italy

By Jayne Haugen Olson

During 35 years as frontman for the hard-rocking, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-nominated band KISS, Paul Stanley has traveled the world over... and over. Coming off the fall release of its new album, Sonic Boom (which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200,) the band wraps its North American tour this month before Stanley settles in for the holidays with his family in Los Angeles.

Having played the world, is there one place that stands out to the dynamic rocker? "This past year after we finished a European tour, I had my whole family -- my kids, my wife, my parents and her parents, fly to Italy. We stayed in a Medici villa in a little town called Vicchio, in the Mugello region," Stanley says. "While we were there, we visited a little town called Scarperia. This street [Via Roma] was just so terrific -- a pizzeria on the corner and gelato and pastry shop up the street. What else do you need?"

"There's a building called II Palazzo dei Vicari [built in the 14th century,] something between a museum and a city hall and a government building -- a fabulous, fabulous building, where you can learn about the Medici family and see family crests and all of these great artifacts."

The town's mayor gave Stanley special access to a precious historical archive within II Palazzo dei Vicari. "The crazy part is that there are no windows in the tower, and these signed records of purchases of land and births -- these amazing journals dating back to 1100 -- are just out in the open and you can pick them up."

"Down the street not half a block from II Palazzo dei Vicari is a pizzeria. Michelin-starred restaurants, there are enough of those, but this pizzeria -- we went back two or three times. Just the best pizza. I'm a purist in terms of New York pizza, but real Italian pizza just raises the bar."

"There are beautiful, beautiful streets in Pisa and Verona. But this street was so quaint and so untravelled, not a tourist spot. The town is not a tourist spot. This one street, just for the pizza alone! Plus good Sicilian cannoli. With everything else available to us, we wound up driving back for the pizza."

More To Explore: The municipalities of Scarperia and Vicchio are located in the Mugello region of Tuscany, 25 kilometers north of Florence.

1. II Palazzo dei Vicari, Via Roma 73.

2. "We went to the local markets where we bought groceries and cheap Lambrusco; we made dinners and had a great time," Stanley says.

3. The Mugello region is also home to a Ferrari test track. "They opened the track for us and brought in paramedics and fire trucks and everything -- Ferrari can't do it without doing it full tilt -- they were being very gracious. But I'm really not that keen on going 150 mph in a car, so my dad, my son, my father-in-law and one of my security guys went in the car with the test drivers."

4. Grab a slice at Osteria De' Poeri, Via Roma 78/80.

5. In 2008, KISS performed at Arena di Verona, an amphitheater with a history that includes ludi [public Roman games,] operas, and now rock concerts. Built in A.D. 30, it's the best-preserved ancient structure of its kind.