Meet Megan Richter. Newport Beach, California native, Ole Miss Kappa Kappa Gamma, and food connoisseur. Megan is rising to Instagram food fame on her ever-so popular account, @florence_foodie after being posted by insta sensation @foodintheair. Seen enough of the Italian food instas? Not to worry, Megan has been quite a few places such as Belgium, Paris, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Prague... just to name a few!
Getting to catch up with Megan (who happens to be an old friend of mine) is always a good time, but this time was especially awesome. Megan is studying in my favorite city in the world: Florence, Italy. And let me tell you, did this tug on the heart strings a bit!
Read on about Megan's pink apartment from hell, her love for eats, and of course her passion of travel.
I find it so funny that I am interviewing you because we have continuously chatted throughout your whole time in Florence so I know so much of what you are going to tell me! But, I think it is so necessary for everybody to know how stellar Florence is so this is an absolute must. First and foremost Megan, what inspired you to go abroad?
I wouldn’t say any one thing inspired me to study abroad because it was such a combination of so many things around me! Call me a nerd but I grew up on the travel channel, and would aimlessly watch Samantha Brown’s Passport to Europe with my dad every Sunday morning. I think I can pinpoint that as the moment that I knew I wanted to travel! As for studying abroad, I had just heard so many stories from the people around me and what a great experience it was, and who has ever heard someone say I regret studying abroad? That’s right no one. Overall it was a culmination of things but it wasn’t until my first trip to Europe did I decide that Florence was a perfect fit!
Ahh, yes. Travel Channel! That was me exactly, but I grew up on Anthony Bourdain and Rick Steve's books. I feel like that is the best way to get started... watching people! So Florence is obviously an absolutely breathtaking city. Why did you choose Florence for your time abroad?
I can trace my emails back to around 2010 and I have emails wishing me a happy birthday from the American University of Paris, yes true story. So I definitely wasn’t initially dead set on Florence. Then in 2012 after I graduated high school, I visited France and Italy! This was definitely an eye-opening trip and made me fall in love with Florence, and it’s sort of like choosing a college, when you know you know. I did at times toy with the idea of Barcelona and Amsterdam but something always made me keep coming back to Florence. Honestly might have been the idea of having gelato for every meal, but I can say I don’t regret a single thing about my decision!
I love it, that is so awesome. So we have chatted a bit about your living situation... care to share a little more about it?
Oh the housing question. I don’t even know where to begin. Me along with 7 other girls have had the privilege of living in two apartments that are anything but ideal. I am not one to complain but when you arrive to a dirty, cat hair infested, pink fabric walled, shoebox of an apartment you know you’re in for a treat. Not to mention that our next door neighbors have have 8-10 roommates all of whom we share wifi with. Yes one router for the entire floor of about 20 of us. So the first three weeks drumroll… no wifi, cat hair everywhere from the previous 10 cats that inhabited our home and a lovely 30 minute walk to class. We have had the broken washing machine, the cabinets fall off, the wall break, no wifi, the oven broke- overall it has been a true old school Italian experience. I will say this, we are situated much further then most all of the other students and we count it as our daily workout so we have managed to find some silver lining!
Pink fabric walls? Goodness, that must be a sight. What about classes? Tell me more about what is school is like!
All I have to say is what is school. Going from taking Biology classes to food and art classes may have been the best decision ever. Right now I am in 5 classes, sounds like a pretty full course load right? Mondays I have Fundamental Drawing, Tuesdays Food, Culture and Society in Italy and Art History, Wednesday is Love, Sex and Marriage in the Italian Renaissance and Thursday is History of the Medici family. It is like a schedule made by the Gods. I absolutely love every one of my classes. My favorite would have to be my food class, shocker right. Every 3 weeks we have a lab class where we prepare two Tuscan dishes all of which have been amazing. Then we also go on market tours, field trips to cheese farms, and yesterday we sampled Tuscan wines and truffle panini’s. My three history classes are also so much fun because a majority of our class periods are not spent in class. All of them are visits to museums, the gardens or sights around town! All in all this semester is a breath of fresh air, but it will be back to reality this summer when I take Intro Physiology… rain check?
I would take a food class over biology any day. That was probably such a welcome change for you. Okay Florence Foodie, so food is obviously your "thing." Give us some insight on where to go and eat in Florence.
The food, the food, the food. I could write a novel about the food in Florence. I don’t think I have had a bad meal yet. I will start by saying my favorite meal yet has been San Spirito, and the truffle gnocchi and bruschetta. I don’t even like gnocchi and when I ate it I swore I had died and went to heaven. Some other places I have discovered and love are Trattoria da Giorgio- has a great set price for a three course meal (get the truffle pasta), The Yellow Bar has great spicy homemade pasta, Mercato Centrale- best burgers in town I kid you not, and if you want family style food Il Gatto e la Volpe or Rubaconte both across from each other. So much amazing food at both of these family style restaurants but come hungry! My favorite café is Bianco e. The staff is so nice and they have the best chocolate croissants… ok not as good as secret bakery but then again nothing is.
Okay, wow. Secret bakery... you are totally going to make me cry. Best post-clubbing food ever! Nothing better than nutella pie at 3 am. Speaking of clubs, let's talk about the nightlife! Florence has an outrageous nightlife and truth be told, I spent far too much time at Blob and Lion's Fountain. What are your favorite bars and clubs?
Florence has been so much fun! I had no idea there would be so many options! I would say in the beginning our favorite was kikuya and lions fountain (typical study abroad student answer). At kikuya they have these drinks called dragoons that are the kiss of death. Have one and you’ll have a great night, have two and the night is all a blur. We haven’t determined what’s in them but we do know they are beer based and take a little bit to set in which makes them even worse. As for clubs I have found myself going time and time again to YAB. This is a full light up floor club with VIP tables everywhere. Even when it’s empty somehow I end up having a great time there. Some other places we’ve gone are 21 and Bamboo but you have to go on the right nights. Overall the nightlife in Florence hasn’t been a disappointment.
Dragoons, oh gosh. I have had one too many of those in my life. So epic. Florentine shops are so stellar. I love the leather school in Santa Croce and Mercato Centrale and Massimo's leather is the best place to find quality leather jackets. What are your favorite places to shop?
I have found great purses! I have gone and tried my best in bartering the leather market stall workers and have come out with some great purchases. I just can’t say no to leather purses… it’s a major problem definitely when I have to start packing to go home, fingers crossed it all fits! I have found the trick though is to walk away and act like they are asking way to much because BAM 10-20 euros off just like that! Ill definitely be buying as many as will fit in my 50 pound suitcase limit!
Now to my favorite part... where have you been so far?
I have been so many places in such a short amount of time it’s almost hard to keep track! In Italy alone I’ve gone to Milan, Lake Como, Pisa, Siena, Modena, Parma, and Cinque Terre. My other travels have included Interlaken, Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris, Barcelona, Krakow, Split and Hvar. And tomorrow I leave for springfest in Munich! My favorite place by far has been and always will be Amsterdam, there is something about that city that I absolutely love and it will keep me coming back! Some of my other stand out trips were Salzburg, Austria, Croatia and Poland. All of these I would definitely return too. Salzburg was straight out of a postcard, Croatia was unlike anything I had ever seen but then again I’ve never traveled to the Mediterranean, and Poland was Poland. It was a melting pot of cultures and languages, the food was TO DIE FOR, and the history was so intriguing. One of my favorite memories was experiencing snow fall in Interlaken. I got a little too excited because I haven’t seen real snow in about 10 years. My least favorite…. being pickpocketed in Barcelona but that’s a separate story but don’t worry it has a happy ending!
I will have to get all your information on Poland because I am absolutely dying to go and you will have to tell me all about Munich... even though I am stalking your snapchat as we speak and it looks like you are having a stellar time! After spending so much time in Europe, do you think you will ever feel like a local in Florence?
I don’t think I can honestly say I will ever feel like a local in Italy. I may go to all the local places, attempt to dress in more black, and even refrain from smiling at passer byers, but deep down I’m a tourist. I take a picture of all the beautiful architecture, my food, and the scenery around me. I still enjoy going to the touristy study abroad bars but hey sometimes its nice to be surrounded by people who’s first language is English. I will say though I can navigate Florence like a local and I do take pride in knowing that!
That is so true. We can try our best to look and talk and feel Italian, but all we can do is enjoy our limited time there! Sadly, your semester abroad is coming to a close. What are you most sad about leaving behind?
If I say gelato is that too shallow of me? I’m kidding, but not really. I will miss almost everything. The food, the people I have met, my rock star teachers and classes, casually walking through history while I stuff my face with another sandwich, cappuccinos, but more importantly I will miss the convenience of travel. I absolutely love that you can hop on a train here and go explore. Europe has given me so much and I can’t believe it’s almost time to leave, but I know I’ll be back very soon.
Gelato is something that is always missed. Can't find anything like it in the states! Last but not least, what advice do you have for girls going to Florence?
Be prepared for everything and anything. This means bring that puffy coat your mom is telling you, you should pack, bring all the American snacks you could possibly desire over a 4 month period, and extra. Because I ran out of cookie butter and peanut butter on the same day (yesterday) and my heart sank. Be ready for the best food of your life even if it comes with an extra side of lbs. Don’t be afraid to live outside your comfort zone. And most importantly embrace every single aspect of being abroad, even if it involves going off the radar for days at a time because it is all a part of the experience! And last thing, convince your parents that there’s no need to book a round trip flight, one way would suit you just fine.
Want to see more of Megan? Follow her on her instragram @florence_foodie to see where she is off to next!