NEW YORK — Despite her pedigree and elegant European looks, Francesca Bodini says she’s not interested in joining the socialite ranks. But she just might not be able to help it. Raised on the Upper East Side, the understatedly chic blonde was educated at Chapin and Trinity. Her father is the Italian-born real estate heavyweight Daniele Bodini; her aunt is New York party fixture Alex Kramer, and her maternal grandmother is the Broadway producer Terry Allen Kramer. Bodini spends her weekends at the sprawling family compound in Palm Beach, co-hosts intimate dinners for designer friends at restaurants like Le Charlot and jets to Rome on a monthly basis to visit her devoted boyfriend, Cesare Falletti, the scion of a major Italian real estate clan.

“I don’t praise being a socialite when it’s about self-promotion,” she says, sipping a cappuccino at Fred’s in Barneys New York. “But it’s great if people wear really pretty dresses and it results in charities getting a lot more money — if it actually works out that way.”

Unlike many of her close moneyed pals, such as Victoria Traina, Ali Kaye and Alex von Furstenberg, who shuttle from obligatory uptown charity events to downtown after parties on a nightly basis, Bodini is more likely to be found in the Columbia University library, working toward her political science degree, which she’ll complete next month. “I don’t go out that much anymore, especially this year,” she insists. “When we were freshmen, my best friend Emily [Jerome] and I ended up at Bungalow 8 four nights a week. She’s still there, but I definitely fell behind.”

“She’s 22 going on 30,” says Bodini’s aunt Alex. “I think she knows she’s capable of accomplishing things, and what’s cool is that she has this intellectual curiosity and drive to make something interesting of herself.”

Bodini will spend this summer attending a business school program at Stanford University before she heads off to Milan for a year to work for, naturally, a large real estate company.

Yet academics and career aspirations aside, Bodini sure knows how to turn on the socialite charm when necessary. Recounting a recent dinner party at her father’s Upper East Side apartment where she was seated next to the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations, Bodini tipped her hand. “I had just written a paper on religious freedom in China,” she says, “so my dad was like, ‘Come on, talk to him about politics.’ I told him that it’s something you really don’t want to get into.” Instead, Bodini asked a more playful question: “Finally, I turned to the ambassador and said, ‘So, where do you get the best dim sum in New York?'”

This story first appeared in the May 16, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Editor’s Note: This is the launch of an occasional Eye feature on people making the scene.