Sep 29th, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Travel

A Sanctuary on a Lagoon Awaits Senior Citizens

Venice really needs no introduction.  It is a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry, and is the capital of the region Veneto, with a population of about 270,660. It is known as the City of Water and the City of Bridges and a favorite senior travel destination.  Together with Padua and Treviso, the city is included in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area with a population of 1,600,000.  And islands! Venice is full of them. The city stretches across 117 small islands in the marshy Venetian Lagoon along the Adriatic Sea.

All the buildings of Venice are constructed on closely spaced wood piles, which are imported from the mainland.  Under water, in the absence of oxygen, wood does not decay. It is petrified as a result of the constant flow of mineral-rich water around and through it, so that it becomes a stone-like structure.

In Venice, the city itself is the number one sight on a senior’s bucket list.  But you would be remiss if you didn’t also visit one of the most beautiful churches in Italy (so says this author, anyway), located right on Venice’s main square: St. Mark’s Basilica, or Basilica di San Marco. Right behind  St. Mark’s Basilica in terms of actual attractions worth visiting in Venice is the Doge’s Palace. The Doge’s Palace, or Palazzo Ducale in Italian, is the former home of Venice’s rulers, the Doges or Dukes.

The easiest and most pleasant way to get around Venice is on foot, but the Grand Canal only has a few bridge crossings and taking a ride on Venice’s water-buses is a fun transport method. Even beyond the practical reasons for taking a vaporetto, however, there’s the fact that the slow #1 vaporetto that runs the length of the Grand Canal is the ideal equivalent to a city bus tour.

Venice is still one of the most interesting and lovely places in the world. This sanctuary on a lagoon is virtually the same as it was six hundred years ago, which adds to the fascinating character.  Venice has decayed since its heyday and is heavily touristed (there are slightly more tourists than residents), but the romantic charm remains.

The city remains full of the world’s most artistic masterpieces per square kilometer; you’d think the city would take it easy, maybe rest on its laurels.  But Venice refuses to retire from the inspiration business. In narrow calli (alleyways), you’ll glimpse artisans hammering out shoes crested like lagoon birds, cooks whipping up four-star dishes on single-burner hotplates, musicians lugging 18th-century cellos to riveting baroque concerts played with punk-rock bravado.

Venice is best when caught between acts, after the day trippers rush off to beat afternoon traffic, or before cruise ships dump dazed newcomers off in Piazza San Marco with three hours to see all of Venice before lunch. There is so much to see in the city so plan plenty of time there.  It is said that nobody arrives in Venice and sees the city for the first time.

Depicted and described so often that its image has become part of the European collective consciousness, Venice can initially create the slightly anticlimactic feeling that everything looks exactly as it should. The water-lapped palaces along the Canal Grande are just as the brochure photographs made them out to be, Piazza San Marco does indeed look as perfect as a film set, and the panorama across the water from the Palazzo Ducale is precisely as Canaletto painted it.

Seniors, Get Lost in Venice

I liked this statement that reads…”get lost in Venice.”  Venice, unlike most other cities, gets better as you seniors get lost-er. And because Venice is both relatively small and almost always crowded, getting lost can be a little more challenging than you might expect – especially because the kind of “lost” I’m talking about here isn’t just the kind where you don’t know precisely where you are or where the road you’re on will take you. There is nothing that is as important when you’re visiting Venice than just wandering aimlessly through its streets and alleys.

If you only had 3-4 hours in the city, it is recommended that you do this getting lost activity before you set foot inside a single museum or attraction – it’s that critical to enjoying your visit. By wandering (especially if you point yourself in the exact opposite of the direction where the herd is going) you can find Venice’s many charming and often-empty squares and streets, which goes a long way toward helping you appreciate the city. So seniors…get lost in Venice.

For those of you not wanting to get lost in Venice, Trip Advisor finds things for you to see and do, so do some good planning before your visit. By now you know of my interest in interactive maps and this is a good one. Arrivederci Venice!  jeb

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