Life to Gustave von Aschenbach meant more than simply living; rather, an entirely differently definition is used. To him, life was abstaining from art; but to take up art is to deny life. Thus the artist becomes the individual, and life that which he envies. All too late to realize this, Aschenbach, in his final years, finally seeks life outside his works. Unfortunately, without the rhythm and dutiful nature his art brought him, he became lost. To re-identify himself, he chose Venice to vacation.
But try as he may, he could not break his identity founded in the art. One may first ask why he chose Venice, of all cities available, to purge art and embrace life. Venice, after all, is well known for it's endemic artistic qualities known no where else. The warm climate, beautiful countryside, and romantic canals lend itself to inspiration for great art. Contrasting this would be the less hospitably, but just a beautiful country of Germany.
Warm climate is far briefer in the summers, leaving little to inspire great art - great things. How would leaving a rigid, regimented society for that of an artistic be of great use in the attempt to loose an artistic identity The answer lies in tradition and culture. Italy is predominately Catholic. The Catholic Church has long prospered in a tradition of full church development - more that just simply attending mass. This lends the tradition of the Italians to embrace life fully; constantly drawing on the constant interactions with others. When there is a full life to live, little time is spent attempting to mirror it.
Not only is this true with Venice, but it was also true with the Greeks. Warm, inviting environments encourage warm, inviting conversation. Strength within a society, based on the traditions of "life", derives from good conversation. Venice offers so many gifts to the senses; one relishes them in the accompaniment of others, rathe than in artistic isolation. Germany, in counterpoint, is less than hospitable outside of the warmer summer weather. Embracement of the gifts of nature becomes limited, driving away the spark for social interaction.
In result, many become estranged from the core of society, forcing them to artistically "create" their own. To nio Kroger does this in his writings, identically the same way Aschenbach creates his life from his regimented writing. Only by fully embracing life can one successfully loose their artistic roots. Venice happens to be one of the most inviting place for that to happen.