People have been drinking fortified wines flavoured with herbs and roots for thousands of years, but sweet vermouth was invented in Turin by Antonio Carpano in 1786. The name vermut is from the German for wormwood (artemisia), the herb used in absinthe, though this is rarely used today.
Turin and Piedmont still make the most famous brands: Martini, Carpano, Cinzano. Stock is made in Trieste. Punt e Mes ('Point and a half') is two parts Carpano vermouth, one part quina liqueur.