Flavia Arlotta was born in Naples into a cosmopolitan family on 9 May 1913. Her father Ugo was cultivated and wealthy and her mother was a Russian sculptress. In 1930 Flavia went to live in Florence to study painting. Through Felice Cerena she met Giovanni Colacicchi who later became her husband and with whom she had two sons: Piero in 1937 and Francesco in 1942. She received her diploma at the Accademia in 1935. She participated in various collective exhibitions in the 1930s and 1940s at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence and the Galleria d'arte Moderna in Rome. In 1939 her father bought her the studio house in Via dell'Osservatorio which remained the well-loved residence of Flavia and Giovanni for the rest of their lives.
The War years were passed with the family in Vallombrosa in the house loaned to them by Nicky Mariano and Bernard Berenson. That period was described by her in her memoirs "Ricordi", published posthumously in 2013. She painted portraits, still lifes, and landscapes and had three solo exhibitions in Florence in 1979, 1984 and 1998. Besides her art Flavia also dedicated her life to the conservation of Florence and its environs. Her papers, together with those of Giovanni Colacicchi, are deposited with the Archivio Contemporaneo "A. Bonsanti" of the Gabinetto Vieusseux of Florence.
She died in Florence on 13 December 2010 in her house in Via dell'Osservatorio.