Guest post from Bobby PetriniAt the time I received my letter of acceptance to the YFU Program in spring of 2000, I couldn’t possibly think past what an amazing summer I had in store. Fast forward fifteen years later and I’ve just returned home after spending the better part of August and September traveling across Europe with my best Italian friend from high school.
Aldo, my YFU host brother, and I spent only three and a half weeks hanging out that summer in Salerno, and yet I would consider him and the members of his family my own. Since graduating college, Aldo and I have managed to travel between Europe and the States at least once a year with each other’s friends. We’ve ventured to two Coachella concerts in the Palm Desert, skied in the Colorado Rockies and visited countless cities across Europe.
From the time Aldo told me ten years ago he had taken a graduation trip to Croatia and that it was one of the most beautiful destinations he had ever visited, I knew I had to see it for myself. It was on our last trip to London for Aldo’s first American football game - my San Francisco 49ers vs the Jacksonville Jaguars – that we decided, as we near the end of our twenties, that we needed to coordinate an epic summer vacation like our original summer in Salerno. We chose The Yacht Week Croatia 2014.
It took no time at all to recruit ten friends from San Francisco for the week long adventure sailing down the Dalmatian Coast. Half of the group had already met Aldo during one of his many visits to California, and the other half were thrilled to have a European with us on our maiden voyage.
The trip began with me and two friends from the Bay Area meeting Aldo in Salerno, relaxing and visiting with Aldo’s friends and family. Returning to Salerno fifteen years later to see the friends I had made during my formative years and now introducing my Californian friends to Aldo’s family was the greatest experience. We sampled fresh pizza and mozzarella from Naples, drank Limoncello from Capri and enjoyed homemade brioche from my favorite ice cream bar that is still as popular as ever. Aldo’s parents and Nonna were just as hospitable and generous as I remember; welcoming my American friends and treating us all like their own children getting sent off to an adult summer camp.
From Italy we reconvened with the larger crew in Dubrovnik, our jumping off point in Croatia. We spent seven days with forty other boats filled with people from across the globe, sailing by day and partying by night. We explored the islands of Vis and Hvar where we visited The Blue Cave, jumped off cliffs into the Aegean Sea, toured medieval forts and castles, ate fresh lobster and sailed a regatta across the sea on our final day’s route. The trip of a lifetime for us all and one that reminded us to continue the tradition of traveling to a new destination every couple of years.