Snow over the past few days looked set to ruin the big day for the Biella club as the amateur side hosted an international but their members got out with the shovels from early yesterday morning and shifted four inches of snow.
Inevitably, the pitch developed into a quagmire but the latest crop to represent Ireland at this level showed they had the ability to adapt to the conditions, not least up front where a strong pack gave them a winning platform.
Italy crossed for a try inside two minutes but Ireland were more clinical and, in the end, posted their biggest score against the Italians and their biggest win to date in Italy.
Scrum-half Luca Petrozzi broke from deep to create that excellent start for Italy and while his opposite number, Irish captain Nick McCarthy, got back to nab him he couldn’t prevent the offload to flanker Dennis Bengamin.
The Irish response was good. They sensed they had an edge up front and went to the right corner with a penalty. Alex Thompson won the lineout and when they got the drive going, flanker Josh Murphy got the touchdown.
Ross Byrne landed the touchline conversion to kickstart a good night with the boot, his tactical kicking in open play constantly forcing the Italians on the back foot.
But Italy made their attacks count, with Maicol Azzolini adding to his earlier conversion with a penalty from 40 metres on the left.
Again Ireland responded well and attacked out wide before Garry Ringrose made the hard yards through the cover and offloaded for Greg O’Shea to score a fine try which Byrne converted to out Ireland 14-10 after 16 minutes.
Ireland continued to press forward and extended their lead 11 minutes from the break with another good lineout drive, Murphy winning the ball and flanker Rory Moloney touching down.
But Italy refused to wilt and created an excellent try through good running and good hands for winger Luca Sperandio to score in the right corner.
Ireland lost try-scorer O’Shea to injury after a heavy collision but they finished the half with a fourth try when hooker Zack McCall blocked down a kick on the right wing and had the legs to sprint away and score, Byrne’s conversion making it 28-15 at the interval.
Ireland put further daylight between the sides five minutes after the restart. Byrne continued to control proceedings at out-half in an excellent display and he and replacement Joey Carbury were the last hands in a good move which put full-back Billy Dardis over.
Ireland never looked back after that and the Italian challenge wilted as the pitch continued to disintegrate on a freezing night.
Italy scorers: Tries: L Sperandio, D Bergamin. Con: M Azzolini. Pen: Azzolini.
Ireland scorers: Tries: J Murphy, G O’Shea, R Moloney, Z McCall, B Dardis, N McCarthy, C Romaine. Cons: R Byrne (6).
ITALY: G de Santis; L Sperandio, M Gabbianelli, E Lucchin, Y Agbasse; M Azzolini, L Petrozzi; D Dallavalle, L Luus, P Buinfiglio; D Zanetti, D Fragnito; M Archetti, R Giammarioli, D Bergamin.
Replacements: R Raffaele for Petrozzi, 45mins; M Cortnelli for Bergamin, 59mins; F Pavesi for Dallavalle, 63mins; M Minozzi for Azzolini, 63mins; U D’Onofrio for Fragnito, 68mins; V Barbuscia for Luus, 73mins; T Beraldin for Agbasse, 73mins; E Makelara for Buinfiglio, 75mins.
IRELAND: B Dardis (UCD/Leinster); G O’Shea (Shannon/Munster), G Ringrose (UCD/Leinster), F Cleary (Lansdowne/Leinster), J Owens (QUB/Ulster); R Byrne (UCD/Leinster), N McCarthy (UCD/Leinster); J Loughman (UCD/Leinster), Z McCall (QUB/Ulster), O Heffernan (Terenure/Leinster); D O’Connor (St. Mary’s/Leinster), A Thompson (QUB/Ulster); J Murphy (UCD/Leinster), R Moloney (Buccaneers/Connacht), L Dow (QUB/Ulster).
Replacements: J Carbery (UCD/Leinster) for O’Shea, 35mins; N Timoney (St. Mary’s/Leinster) for Dow, 40mins; C Romaine (Buccaneers/Connacht) for O’Connor, 59mins; C O’Donnell (Sligo/NUIG/Connacht) for Heffernan, 59mins; S Arnold (Ballynahinch/Ulster) for Cleary, 65mins; A McBurney (Ballymena/Ulster) for McCall, 65mins; J Cullen (Shannon/Munster) for McCarthy, 68mins; M Lagan (Ballymena/Ulster) for Loughman, 68mins.
Referee: D Jones (Wales).