Initially settled by the Phoenicians — who established the important city of Cagliari — Sardegna served as one of the main granaries for the Roman Empire. Still, the area was able to maintain much of its independence and following the fall of the Roman Empire, it eventually became its own kingdom. Over time, Sardegna joined the Kingdom of Piemonte. Eventually, this alliance led to the Kingdom of Italy, which became the state of Modern Italy.
Largely viewed as quaintly rural, Sardegna has managed to maintain much of its culture. Being an island, it evolved differently than mainland Italy. The traditional music of Sardegna is considered one of the oldest surviving music styles in the world, and, as evidence, UNESCO awarded it protection in 2005. With beaches a-plenty, many inhabitants spend their free hours trekking along the sea while bronzing under the sun.
It is not surprising that the food of Sardegna is rich in seafood. Rock lobster, scampi, and various other shellfish are prepared in a variety of ways. For special occasions, suckling pig and wild boar are roasted on a spit. Local herbs like mint and myrtle are present in nearly every dish that comes from the island. Inland herders make strong cheeses from the milk of their cows and goats.
Sardegna is known for its local adaptations of international varieties. Cannonau (the local word for Grenache) and Carignano (Carignane) wind their way into most of the red wines from the region. The island’s sole DOCG is for Vermentino di Gallura, which is one of Italy’s finest examples of the Vermentino grape. It is at once mineralic with a hint of sea breeze, making it a nearly perfect pairing for shellfish and rock lobster.