It's cool up north (so don't forget your shades)

Big Night Out: Milan

The vibe

All roads point north when it comes to Italian nightlife and Milan, which considers itself to be at the epicentre of all things trendy and stylish, knows how to party. After work, mingle with the style council who hold court during happy hour (6-9pm) in neighbourhood cafés before heading out for the night. This season's shades are de rigueur come rain or shine. Most bars are busy until after midnight, when the chic crowd hits the clubs. A taxi ride to anywhere in the city should cost no more than £10. Words of advice: go armed with attitude, the Milanese have it by the bucketful. Words of warning: leave plenty of space in your Louis Vuitton for taking home your designer numbers. You don't have Louis Vuitton? Maybe you should be in Middlesbrough, not Milan, sweetie.

Liquid

Pose with the fashion posse and sip Prosecco at 10 Corso Como, the bar-cum-café-cum-design emporium, which has a sensuous, leafy courtyard. Cruise the style slaves who hole up in the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel, via Gesu 8, which is fashion central and the only address to have during your stay in Milan. Order an Edina Patsy cocktail and watch the couture crowd as they mingle. After dinner everyone drinks at G Lounge, via Larga 8, a busy basement bar with live DJs. Like most clubs, G Lounge operates a two-queue system: queue once to pay for your drinks and get a ticket, then queue again at the bar to exchange your ticket for your drink.

Refuelling

The restaurant of the moment is Chandelier, via Broggi 17 (00 39 02 2024 0458). Their strapline says it all: mood & food. Think hunky boys dressed in silk dressing gowns serving divine food - you get the picture. About £45. Classixo, via Panfilo Castaldi 38 (00 39 02 2951 9840), is a neighbourhood eaterie serving modern Milanese cuisine. Around £35. Vegetarians can feast at Joia, via P Castaldi 18 (00 39 02 2952 2124), where Zen meets the exotic. About £35.

Go native

When in Milan you must pay homage at La Scala. OK, so the purists aren't making their pilgrimage to Teatro degli Arcimboldi, the modern auditorium that is the opera's temporary home while the original site undergoes renovation, but you will be rewarded with an unforgettable theatrical experience. Tickets from £75 upwards through Liaisons Abroad (020 7376 4020; www.liaisonsabroad.com).

Party

Clubs kick off after midnight. Expect to pay a minimum £10 cover charge that will include your first drink. If you encounter the confusing pay-as-you-leave system, you will be handed a ticket, which will be punched every time you order a drink. You pay your bill at the end by handing in your punched ticket before you exit. Don't lose your ticket, as the fine for losing it is extortionate. On Friday, fashionistas dance around their Prada handbags at Magazzini, via Pietrasanta 14. Hollywood, Corso Como 15, is still the hang-out of models and pseudo-mafia types trying hard to look bored. On Saturday head for Billyclub, via Gatto, which is a short taxi ride from the centre. Here you will find a alcohol-fuelled crowd grooving to house sounds until dawn.

Munchies

Few places stay open beyond 3am but Bar Brera, via Brera 23, is always a safe betand is open daily from 7am till 3am. The warm, oak-panelled interior is sure to soothe after a night of dancing.

Chill

Stroll around the deserted streets and enjoy some window-shopping along via Spiga, via Montenapoleone and via Sant'Andrea, the fashion triangle.

Exclusive Italy (01892 619 650; www.exclusiveworldwide.com) offers a two-night deluxe b&b break at The Four Seasons Hotel from £673 per person, including return flights with British Airways and private car transfers. For further information, contact the Italian State Tourist Board (020 7408 1254; www.enit.it).

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