I tracked down Francesco Padova, who, along with his brother, Salvatore, and his sister, Maria Angela, owns San Basilio, a 180-acre farm in southern Sicily, near the Mediterranean Sea. There, his family has been cultivating pizzuta di Avola, an heirloom variety of almond, for four generations. The hardy breed was championed by the 19th-century botanist Giuseppe Bianca to promote an alternative to wine growing in Sicily, where insects had been wiping out vineyards. Francesco credits the nuts' high oil content, as well as the area's calcium-rich soil, for their unique taste. In this sultry part of Italy, the nearly constant sunshine concentrates the nuts' flavor, while the seaside humidity provides enough moisture to offset the need for irrigation. Though less water translates to a lower yield, says Francesco, it also means more intense flavor.