How do you intend to "explore" them.
Nobody in their right mind goes driving in the ALps in Winter without Winter tyres.
If by car ensure your car has winter tyres. They have to be booked at time of booking. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to book a car with Winter tyres in Italy - even with the major companies (Hertz, Avis, Sixt)
Problem is that Switzerland, Austria and Germany have winter tyre laws where vehicles should have them fitted from November/December through March/April during "Wintry conditions". In Italy they are only regional laws and are Winter tyres OR chains.
As these are regional laws and "Winter tyres or Chains" the rental companies are under no obligation to provide WInter tyres.
With Winter tyres you can drive quite normally when it is snowing or has snowed and also work better at lower temperatures. With chains you can barely drive more than 30kmh. I have often got stuck behind Italians "tippy-toeing" down mountain roads in their summer tyres.
Unfortunately chains are an easy way out for both the hire car companies and even for many Italians themselves. Often putting cost before safety.
DRIVING IN SWITZERLAND (AUSTRIA AND GERMANY)
In Switzerland, Austria and Germany chains are banned on the Autobahns because Winter tyres can work well even at 100kmh in snow. Chains may only be fitted (on Autobahns) when instructed to do so by the police - and it would have to be severe.
In addition if you were driving in snowy weather on Summer tyres and were stopped you will be fined. In addition if you were driving in such a way (tippy-toeing around) that you impeded traffic you will also be fined. If you are involved in an accident in WIntry conditions even if it wasn't your fault you will get apportioned some of the blame for having an inadequately equipped vehicle.
Cause an accident and you are in big trouble.
I wasnt exactly talking about the rented car. I rented cars in the past in Germany and Switzerland and also Italy and I know how it works. As a matter of fact I go every winter to these ski resorts in Europe.
I was thinking more as accomodations and things to do around Sondrio being worthwhile.
Last year I had Aosta as home base and liked it very much. This year I thought of exploring a different place.
By the way, I usually rent cars with Hertz.
Livigno is a good choice but it's quite far from other places, it takes about an hour to Bormio and 90 minutes to St Moritz but it is a very busy resort with a lot going on, it's also duty free so cheap for spirits, cigarette, petrol etc. The best airport would be Innsbruck as it's a 2.30 minute drive and the hire cars in Austria are all equipt with snow tyres and chains.
Thanks a lot Chrella. You have been very helpful. I guess I will look Bormio again and see once nore which the hotels are availabel and try to establish it as a home base for other places.
I was in Innsbruck two years ago and am actually looking for a different place to stay. My idea of choosing Italy was mainly for also enjoying the italian food too after the skiing.
You also get more for your money in Italy as you do in Austria, however before you book Bormio check out the snow situation as it's a low altitude resort so sometimes the village has no snow at all and there's just a white strip of artificial leading down to the village, I think at the moment it is snowing there but it depends when you plan to visit, if it's March I would go with Livigno as it's much higher.