2 hills in Sicily, including a 1st activation: May 18th and 21st

Our base in Sicily was the beautiful hillside town of Ragusa Ibla, which is some distance from any recognised SOTA summits. For my first activation,I chose the unactivated I/SI-189, as it was easy to combine it with a trip to see the amazing Roman mosaics at Villa Romana del Casale. The latter is highly recommended and I think its best to arrive mid-afternoon (as we did) to avoid the worst of the tour bus crush. It was about 1 hour 45m drive from Ragusa.

Monte Alzacuda, I/SI-189
From Googlemaps, I had chosen a parking area in a forest/picnic ground immediately opposite an obvious track up to the summit.

Parking was no problem, although the site itself wasn’t really open - my XYL managed to get a staff member to unlock the toilet block. While Rachel went off exploring locally, I headed for the track, which was clearly marked with an information stone

It was about a 15 minute walk to the top, the last part being on a relatively new bulldozed “track” which I think might indicate a future expansion of the windfarm which has been built adjacent to the hill

KX3, Spiderbeam 7m mast, Sotabeams 20/40m linked dipole. 25C with slight breeze and overcast/hazy.

Band conditions were poor - this was 18th May, a week after the big auroral event and several big flares had happened since.
40m was very noisy with frequent static crashes and I couldn’t hear many stations apart from locals. 4G coverage was good enough to spot and I managed to get 5 in the log, including a difficult S2S with SP9MPZ/P and an easier one with Fabio IK2LEY/P, before a local IT9 started calling CQ on my frequency with a 59+ signal (thanks but no thanks, Francesco :angry:). Moving to 20m, I got another 13, including 2 from G-land (G3VXJ and M0MDA) 4 more S2S and regular chasers F4WBN and EA2DT. I couldn’t hear anything on the higher bands and conscious of Rachel waiting to move on to Villa Romana, I called it a day at 1055.
Views from the top

A taste of the Villa Romana del Casale mosaics - there are several other unactivated hills in the vicinity

Monte Arcibessi, I/SI-308

This is located next to the hilltop town of Chiaramonte Gulfi, about 35m drive from Ragusa Ibla. There are a few options to access the top. The easiest is to take a road leading to a comms complex beside the summit, but that is a tad boring, so Rachel and I opted to walk up the wooded hillside using a steep track. This starts with some steps beside a road running North from a small church, Santuario Della Madonna delle Grazie, opposite an absolute eyesore of an abandoned hotel called La Planeta.
The eyesore

We initially parked next to the church and walked down to have lunch in the town. The parking spot was being used by local police, fire and forestry teams who it turned out, were looking for a missing local man. After a nice lunch, we moved the car closer to the starting steps.

The track turned out to be quite steep in parts, with a couple of scrambles requiring me to take my backpack off, but what is SOTA without a bit of sweat?
The top is a nice flat field with hay bales - earlier in the growing season might be trickier.

KX3, Spiderbeam 7m mast, Sotabeams 20/40m dipole, Sotabeams Tactical 7000hds, 10m moxon. 27C , sunny, no wind. I set up next to another large comms mast - see shadow in pic below, which I think was responsible for a few burbles on 10m, but otherwise caused no problems.

Band conditions were better - this was now May 21st. 40m just had a few locals, so at 1429 utc I started on 20m - 4G was OK. 18 itl with EA2DT and M0MDA again, plus Gerald G4OIG and Don G0RQL. 10m had some good sigs, so I put up the moxon and was rewarded with 3 EA8s, KC1NDQ Mass, WY7N (Conn, not Utah) and finally PY2VM.
As I was packing up, 3 local guys approached us across the field. They were looking for the missing man and just wanted to ask us if we had seen anyone. A check on Google shows that the 65 year old man was found in good health by a tracker dog, so a happy ending :grinning:.

Views from the top

Looking at Chiaramonte Gulfi on the way back down

73 and thanks to all


Great photos Simon; well done with activation. :+1:

cheers- :beers:

Geoff vk3sq


Nice report and photos, Simon!
Landed at Catania on 1985 trip in small puddle-jumper airplane. Memories of Sicily were VERY good vibes; almost magical, and really loved those mountain-top towns. Flying coastal, just before Catania, looked way up to see smoke at mountain top, and realized it was Etna! See airplane on my QRZ page:
(K6HPX - Callsign Lookup by QRZ Ham Radio)
All best, Ken

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Thanks Ken. The towns are great to wander around in, but a bit of a nightmare for driving…


Very Well Done Simon !! Great Report !

73 de iw0hk Andrea

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Many thanks for the excellent report Simon and the interesting photographs. It looks to be a very pleasant area and unactivated summits are always a bonus. It was good to catch you on Monte Arcibessi. Unfortunately I missed your first activation. As you say, conditions were not good due to the sun activity and that day I couldn’t any other activators apart from you. The SOTA log has been very thin of late.

73, Gerald