Insider's guide to... Milan

What's the weather like?

The cursed nebbia, the city's fog, has settled in for the winter: a hazy grime which reduces visibility to the fur coat in front or the back bumper of the next Fiat Punto. And it's very, very cold.

What are locals complaining about?

Mainly the fact that the Associazione Stradale Lombarda - the road authority - completely cut off cars from Milan last week to update traffic lights before the millenium bug bites.

Who's the talk of the town?

Christian Vieri and Andrei Shevchenko, the two "bombers" of those football teams. One's all mouth and money, the other a quiet Ukranian who no one can understand.

What's the cool drink to order?

Vin brule, the scorching red wine, or the bitter digestive Amaro Ramazzotti. Beer is big; Milanese yoof affect a love of Guinness. Milan's most famous tipple is Amaretto Disaronno, a thick, sweet concoction thrown into almost every cocktail.

What are people eating?

Food here is heavier than the rest of Italy: much risotto and slabs of polenta. Or there's cotoletta, a slice of meat in an egg and flour batter. The Rolls Royce of eateries is still Peck - for the last 100 years a take- away rosticceria, fetishistic about its grub.

The latest outrageous TV?

TV is very scorchio: a parade of go-go girls in bikinis mouthing songs as they prance around the studio. Even newscasters flirt and show their bra-straps. There's a prank show called Scherzi A Parte, a slapstick affair with custard pies and whoopee cushions which attracts close on 10 million viewers.

Where won't locals dream of going?

Rome, which is seen as the leeching, taxing, rival capital of Italy (the Lega Nord separatists have their stronghold around Milan). Parco Sempione, known as "little Amsterdam" because of its narcotics vending, and given a wide berth.

Where are locals going that tourists don't know about?

Post Garage is the very new club of Dolce & Gabbana, and every weekend has a line of limos and fur coats outside. Most winter weekends, half of Milan ends up in Livigno, the small tax-free skiing "state" in the nearby Alps.

Where are the chic shopping?

Those with fat wallets head towards Quadrilatero d'Oro, the "Golden Square" around Monte Napoleaone. Shrewder shoppers hang around Porta Ticinese, with its market of once-worn designer labels.

TOBIAS JONES

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