You might get better responses in the Italy forums... but barring freak weather, you will have to deal with rain, not snow, at least not the kind of snow that would require plowing.
I am olso going to north of italy, this month. I have read a lot of information on this subject in tihe israeli sites and is seem, that this is possibel! it's better to have winter wheels and chain but it's not must. for sure this cheeper then the intaly train/
How on earth could a rental car be cheaper than local trains?
I usually prefer trains too.
But depending on the number or person in a family or group, it might be worthwhile renting a car rarther then paying something like 4 tickets, that is, four times the cost of a trip for a group of 4 people.
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